Gum diseases is a serious medical condition that has been correlated with other diseases. It’s important to prevent it with good oral hygiene or stop it in its early form, known as gingivitis. If gingivitis is left untreated it can progress to an even more serious form of gum disease known as periodontitis. This form of gum disease may require surgery to address, so catching gum disease early with regular visits to the dentist is key.
But how does gum disease develop in the first place? Let’s take a closer look at how the buildup of plaque in the mouth eventually turns into periodontitis and tooth loss. With a deeper understanding of what causes gum disease, one is better armed to prevent it or treat it. Here are the steps the progressively lead to periodontitis.
- Poor oral hygiene: Around 700 different species of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microorganisms have been found in the human mouth. Most of these are harmless, but others are the source of cavities and gum disease. These microorganisms attach themselves to teeth in a layer called a biofilm.
These microorganisms release various byproducts into the mouth as part of their life cycle. For example one called Streptococcus mutans releases acid that dissolves the tooth and is responsible for tooth decay. Others release enzymes that break down the protein that makes up the gums.
Without any disruption by regular brushing or visits to the dentist, this biofilm can spread and start growing at or below the gum line. Once they reach this point, the protein-attacking enzymes and other chemicals they release start affecting the gums due the constant exposure to these bacteria’s byproducts.
- Progression to gingivitis: If the bacteria are allowed to reach the gum line and stay there for a long time, they will release byproducts that inflame the gums and cause gingivitis. At this stage it’s important to treat the gingivitis with a deep cleaning (or scaling and root planing) in order to remove the bacteria that are causing the inflammation and destruction of the gums.
- Progression to periodontitis: If the bacteria are not removed during the gingivitis stage and are allowed to cause enough gum tissue destruction, they start forming pockets in the gums around the teeth. This makes them even harder to remove and allows them to destroy the connective tissue that connects the tooth. If left unchecked, this can lead to tooth loss.
- Treatment of Periodontitis: In order to treat periodontitis, the bacteria causing the damage and inflammation must be destroyed or removed. One of the treatment options available at Worcester Periodontics for periodontitis is LANAP® laser gum surgery. In this minimally invasive treatment the diseased tissue is zapped away with a laser. This is in contrast with traditional gum surgery where the gums are cut open to expose the diseased tissue so that it can be surgically removed.
Gingivitis and periodontitis are progressive forms of gum disease that can lead to serious oral health complications if not addressed promptly. Maintaining good oral hygiene, including regular brushing, flossing, and professional cleanings, is crucial for preventing gum disease. If gum disease does develop, early intervention is vital to prevent further damage. Armed with an in depth knowledge of how the disease forms and progresses, we hope people can prevent it from occurring in the first place.
If you are already suffering from some form of gum disease and are looking for a dentist that specializes in gum disease treatment, we welcome you to book an appointment at Worcester Periodontics. Our periodontists will be happy to help you get your periodontal health back on track!