Gum disease and gingivitis, collectively referred to as periodontal diseases, are common oral health conditions that affect millions of people worldwide. These conditions can range from mild gum inflammation to severe infections that lead to tooth loss and systemic health issues. Understanding the causes, symptoms and treatments for these conditions is vital for maintaining good oral health and preventing potentially serious consequences. At Radiant Smiles, we offer advanced treatment for gum disease at our dental center in Arlington, VA.
Causes of Gum Disease
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is primarily caused by the accumulation of plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that forms on the teeth. When plaque is not regularly removed through proper oral hygiene practices like brushing and flossing, it hardens into a substance known as tartar or calculus. Tartar buildup can irritate the gums, leading to inflammation and infection. In response, the body’s immune system triggers an inflammatory response, and over time, this process can damage the supporting structures of the teeth, including the bone. Several risk factors contribute to gum disease, including smoking, hormonal changes, certain medications and underlying medical conditions such as diabetes. Genetic factors can also play a role, as some individuals may be more genetically predisposed to gum disease.
Symptoms of Gingivitis and Periodontal Disease
The symptoms of gum disease can vary in severity. In its earliest stage, known as gingivitis, individuals may experience red, swollen and tender gums that bleed during brushing or flossing. Gingivitis is often accompanied by persistent bad breath and can typically be reversed with improved oral hygiene practices. However, if left untreated, it can progress into a more severe form of gum disease known as periodontitis. Symptoms of periodontitis include receding gums, pockets forming between the teeth and gums, loose or shifting teeth, and, in advanced cases, tooth loss. Pain and discomfort may also be present, as well as a persistent bad taste in the mouth.
Early intervention and professional treatment are essential to prevent gum disease from advancing and causing irreversible damage to the gums and supporting bone. This includes deep and more frequent dental cleanings, medications and lifestyle changes. In more severe cases, periodontitis may require scaling and root planing below the gum line and other periodontal treatments.
Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss and it can increase your risk for other health issues like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Radiant Smiles is your source for gum disease prevention and treatment. Contact our office in Arlington, VA, to schedule a checkup if you have any signs of gum disease or for a periodontal exam.