When we think of dental health, most of us focus on the teeth. However, while it’s true that healthy teeth are essential to oral health, they’re not the only factor.
Good oral health includes healthy bones, cheeks, tongue and very importantly, gums. If your gums are not in good shape, or you have gum disease, you need to visit your dentist in Bay City sooner rather than later to assess any underlying conditions.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease, also known by the names gingivitis (describing earlier gum disease), and periodontitis (more advanced gum disease), are infection and inflammation of the gums.
These infections are caused by bacteria that are present in the mouth. Usually, we remove them before they can cause trouble, by brushing, flossing and tooth cleaning, but sometimes, they find their way below the gum line.
Once bacteria have moved below the gum line, it can cause a lot of trouble, from itching, painful or bleeding gums, to tooth decay below the gum line and even, in extreme cases, loosening teeth in their sockets. Our dentist can treat it at our practice in Bay City, MI is qualified to diagnose and treat gum disease and perform tooth extractions.
What Causes Gum Disease?
There is no single cause for gum disease. Genetics plays a big role in gum disease especially periodontal disease. In other cases, diseases like cancer or diabetes can trigger or worsen gum disease, or lifestyle factors like smoking may be part of the cause. Poor dental hygiene is also a causative effect.
Even medications that are used to treat other conditions can play a role in developing gum disease. There are so many potential causes that almost everyone is at risk for gum disease, no matter how diligent you are about oral health.
What Kind of Damage Does Gum Disease Cause?
In the early stages, gum disease is primarily an irritant, and there is no significant or lasting damage. This is the ideal time to treat it, so if you notice pain, itching, swelling or bleeding gums, schedule a visit to our dental office in Bay City, MI as soon as possible.
As gum disease progresses, it moves beyond gingivitis, and may become periodontitis. During this stage of the infection, it is possible for permanent damage to occur.
Periodontitis causes the gums to pull away from the teeth, creating pockets in the gums. In these pockets, bacteria grow, attacking the gums, teeth and bone, and doing serious, sometimes permanent damage. The longer periodontitis goes untreated, the more likely it is to cause serious problems, including loose teeth, abscesses and even infections elsewhere in the body.
Infections from periodontitis can get into the bloodstream, and research has shown they can contribute to a host of conditions, including certain types of heart disease.
Treatment for Gum Disease
When it comes to gum disease, the rule of thumb is always “the sooner the better.” A professional cleaning can remove the build-up of bacteria on the teeth and below the gums, and with no bacteria present, an infection cannot happen.
Scaling and root planning may help in more advanced cases of gum disease, while surgical intervention and grafts may be required for cases where significant tissue damage has occurred.
The only way to know which treatment will work best for you is to visit our dentist in Bay City, MI for an exam. Once we have a clear picture of the stage and severity of your gum disease, we will be able to recommend the best course of treatment for you.
For more information on how to recognize and treat gum disease or to schedule a consultation with our dentist in Bay City, MI, please call 989-686-0055 today.