One of the most prevalent diseases in the U.S. is gum disease, affecting nearly 50% of adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Many people don’t even realize they have it until it is too late. A hardened plaque called calculus building up along and under your gum line causes gum disease. Left alone, gum disease may lead to tooth loss, and has been linked to a number of other adverse health conditions. Regular dental cleanings every 6 months remove plaque buildup, reducing your risk of developing this destructive disease. Cleanings will also allow your dentist to spot any early signs of gum disease in order to begin preventative treatment.
When to Seek Professional Dental Care
The first stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. Signs of gingivitis include gums that bleed easily, swollen gums, and tooth sensitivity. If you develop these symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with a dentist right away. Gingivitis is a sign that your gums are being irritated by bacteria buildup called plaque. If the plaque is not removed, you may develop a more serious form of gum disease called periodontal disease, which can worsen rapidly to threaten your teeth. Early detection is essential for protecting your health.
Symptoms of periodontal disease include swollen and bleeding gums, a receding gum line, sensitive teeth, and tooth pain. Infections may develop under your teeth that can intensify your tooth pain. In many cases, infections will spread to the jawbone, causing extensive bone damage and tooth loss.
More Than Your Teeth
Gum disease is an oral health hazard. It’s the leading cause of tooth loss among adults. But that’s just the beginning of health hazards. Gum disease is a chronic infection. It’s like letting your finger stay infected for months or years. So it’s no surprise that it is linked to many other serious health conditions, like:
- Heart disease
- Hardened arteries
- Pregnancy complications
- Autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis
- Cancer, including throat cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, and colon cancer
Oral bacteria use your mouth as a jumping-off point to attack the rest of your body. They spread to your heart, where they can cause infection or contribute to artery-clogging plaque. This plaque hurts your heart and can lead to stroke.
The chronic infection also causes your immune system to be working constantly, causing chronic systemic inflammation. Chronic inflammation has been linked to dementia, autoimmune disorders and cancer.
In addition, some oral bacteria have the ability to hide cancer from your immune system, which may contribute to elevated cancer risk.
Treating gum disease is a great plan for helping protect your overall health, not just your teeth.
Treatment for Gum Disease
Oral hygiene is one of the best methods for combating gingivitis. Brushing and flossing at least twice a day will remove food debris clinging to your teeth which cause plaque. Regular dental cleanings every 6 months will also remove disease-causing bacteria.
For more advanced periodontal disease care, treatment may include:
- Scaling, to gently remove hard plaque
- Root planing, to reduce rough areas in tooth roots that plaque may cling to
- ARESTIN® antibiotic treatment, to combat infection in pockets below your gums
- LANAP® laser treatment, to remove bacteria and promote gum reattachment without stitches for a speedy recovery
We also offer 6:00 A.M. appointments for your convenience.
Severe cases where the jawbone is affected may require the attention of a periodontist. We will be happy to refer you to one of our trusted colleagues in order to continue your care and protect your health.
Don’t give gingivitis time to progress and cause you pain. Drs. Ken and Marnie Collins and their skilled team of hygienists will work with you to prevent or treat gum disease in order to protect your overall health. Please call us at (509) 532-1111 (Spokane) or email Collins Dentistry & Aesthetics today to schedule gum disease treatment or a dental cleaning.