What are the types of Gum Disease and how are they treated?

Gum disease is one of the most common problems occurring affecting 75% of Americans at-least once in a lifetime. It is important to distinguish that there are multiple forms of gum diseases that can affect your overall oral health. If left untreated, certain forms of gum disease could leave few people at risk of certain forms of cancer, diabetes and heart disease. It is important to report symptoms, risks and treatments for gingivitis and its advanced stage condition called periodontitis, which are the two most common forms of gum disease.

Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums, ie gingiva. It occurs commonly due to a film plate or bacteria accumulating over the surface of teeth.

Gingivitis develops when the plate containing bacteria back slowly on the teeth and gums. Eventually, the toxins released by the accumulated plaque begins to damage the teeth and gums, making them sensitive, irritated and swollen.

If left untreated, gingivitis can turn into periodontitis, a much more dangerous form of gum disease. Periodontal disease can cause an infection that destroys the bone supporting the teeth that can lead to tooth loss, bleeding gums and bad breath.

Prompt treatment usually reverses the symptoms of gingivitis and prevents its progression to more severe gum diseases or loss of tooth. The most effective way to prevent advancement of the disease is to have a good oral care routine and to stop consuming tobacco.

Professional gingivitis care includes:
Getting a professional dental cleaning done where they remove all traces of plaque, tartar and bacterial products in a process known as scaling and root planing. These procedures help reduce inflammation and smoothes root surfaces, discouraging further scaling and bacteria, thereby allowing proper healing. The procedure can be performed using instruments, a laser or an ultrasonic device.

Dental restoration, if necessary. Misaligned teeth or ill-fitting crowns, bridges or other dental restorations can irritate the gums and make it harder to scrap out plaque during daily oral care. If issues with teeth or dental restorations contribute to gingivitis, your dentist may recommend fixing these problems first.

Continuous attention. Gingivitis usually disappears after a thorough cleanup done by a professional, as long as you continue the good oral hygiene at home. Your dentist will help you chart out an effective program at home and schedule regular checkups and professional cleaning.

If you are consistent with your oral hygiene at home, you should see the return of healthy pink gum tissue, within days or weeks.

If gingivitis is not treated, it can lead to periodontitis – a disease more serious. Periodontitis can lead to the destruction of the gums, bones, tissues of the mouth and teeth. It is considered to be one of the most leading causes of tooth loss in adults.

If the plaque descends too much below the gum line, toxins can cause tissue and bone that support the teeth to break. As per National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, periodontitis, causes the gums to pull away from the teeth, forming spaces called pockets that become infected. If left untreated, teeth may become loose and need to be removed. Periodontitis could also increase the risk of heart attack or stroke, according to the Mayo Clinic.

According to the American Academy of Periodontology, there are several types of periodontitis, including:

Chronic periodontitis, the most common form, characterized by the formation of pockets and gum recession. It could occur at any age but is most common in adults.

Aggressive periodontitis that’s characterized by the rapid loss of gum and bone destruction.

Periodontitis as a manifestation of systemic diseases associated with heart disease, diabetes and respiratory diseases. Usually it starts at an early age.

Necrotizing periodontal disease is associated by necrosis (death) of gum tissue, periodontal ligament and alveolar bone, causing injury. It is more common in people with systemic diseases such as HIV, malnutrition and immunosuppression.

Treatment is directed to remove plaque and deposits on the teeth and gums.

Oral hygiene practices
Your dental care team will instruct you on how to reduce the number of bacteria in the mouth, which means keeping your teeth and gums clean. They will give you tips on using toothbrushes and floss properly and may recommend other oral hygiene products and a selection of water or mouthwash.

In some cases, your dentist will prescribe antibiotics to help with persistent gum infections that have not responded to cleanings. The antibiotic may be in the form of a mouthwash, gel, or oral tablet or capsule

Follow-up appointments
You may need to follow up with your dentist post few weeks, and later about every three to six months to assess the progress. If periodontal pockets are still existing, they may recommend other treatment options such as surgery.

If the inflammation persists in sites inaccessible to brushing and flossing, your dentist may recommend a surgical procedure called flap surgery for cleaning buildup underneath the gums. Under anesthesia, the gums are lifted away and the roots of the teeth cleaned. Gums are then sutured back (stitched) in place.

If you had a bone loss, a procedure called bone grafting can be performed at the same time as flap surgery to regenerate lost bone.

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