Gum Disease

What Is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is the inflammation of the gums. It is caused by the bacteria in plaque, a sticky, colorless film that collects in the mouth and deposits on the teeth. If not cleaned daily, it buildups and hardens into calculus or tartar. The immune system responds with swelling, and over time, chronic affliction causes teeth to loosen and part with the gums making them susceptible to infection. See your dentist or periodontics facility if you detect any of the symptoms:

  • Red, puffy, or tender gums
  • Gums that bleed during brushing or flossing
  • Changes in the way your teeth close when you bite
  • Pus oozing from the gums
  • Bad breath or a strange, unpleasant taste in your mouth
  • Receding gums

About Receding Gums

Healthy gums are firm, pink, and tightly attached to dense teeth and bone. Gum recession occurs when the soft tissue wears away and separates from the tooth. Pockets and gaps, build at the gum line, creating an opening for bacteria to enter your system. 

It is a common dental issue that occurs quite gradually. In most cases, the first sign of gum recession will be tooth sensitivity. You may observe that some teeth appear longer than before as the gumline lifts. If the pulp and root get exposed, pain, discomfort, and additional health issues can become a concern. If you think your gums are receding, make an appointment with your dentist to prevent further damage and gum disease.

What Causes Gums to Recede?

Gum recession stages can be triggered by a number of factors:

Aggressive brushing - brushing your teeth too hard or improperly, can damage the enamel (hard outer layer of the tooth) resulting in gum recession.

Aging – gum health is directly and exponentially related to age, but stages of gum recession can be decelerated by excellent oral hygiene.

Periodontal disease- the leading cause of receding gums stages, as growing bacteria destroys the tissue and the supporting bone of the jaw.

Genetics - Studies show that approximately a third of people are predisposed to gum disease, regardless of their lifestyle.

Inadequate dental care - a poorly maintained mouth makes a breeding ground for plaque to harbor. Note that some people who uphold good oral routines will still get an abundance of calculus on their bottom front teeth from mineral-rich saliva. This type of buildup can easily be controlled by regular and frequent scaling and polishing.

Hormonal changes - Oscillations in female hormone levels during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause can make gums vulnerable and weak.

Tobacco products - Sticky plaque left on the teeth is worsened and thickened by tobacco.

Bruxism - force from grinding or clenching your teeth can induce pressure on the gum line.

Crooked teeth - when teeth do not come together evenly a misaligned bite can push gums back.

Piercings - Lip or tongue jewelry can rub the gums and irritate them ovetime.

Stages of Gum Disease

Gum disease manifests in three stages: Gingivitis, general Periodontitis, and advanced Periodontitis. Gingivitis is the most common, and it literally means inflammation of the gums. The earliest, mildest, and often painless, it is the only stage of gum disease that can be reversed and prevented by good oral hygiene and regular check-ups with a dentist. You may notice some bleeding during brushing and flossing, but the gums remain intact. Left unremedied gingivitis can turn into Periodontitis.

Subgingival calculus that forms below the gumline cannot be seen without tools and an untrained eye. It is black in color from old blood and very difficult to remove. Its presence means you could have Periodontitis, an advanced gum disease that is incurable but manageable with long-term care. 

Stages of Periodontal Disease:

Stage 1 initial

Untreated gingivitis develops into Stage 1 Periodontitis. The inflammation of the gums starts to cause permanent damage to the periodontal ligaments or fibers that connect the roots of the teeth to the socket. The signs are similar to gingivitis, except the gums will start to form pouches and bleed more.

Stage 2: Moderate

Stage 2 is recognized by increased and obvious damage to joints between the root of the tooth and its socket.

Stage 3: Advanced Periodontitis

At this stage, you are at significant risk of losing teeth that shift and move as your gums continue to recede. You might be plagued with halitosis. Biting and chewing are uncomfortable. Some get infections or painful pus-filled abscesses, which can spread to the mandible, jaw, and other surrounding bones and tissues of the face, cheeks, and neck.

Stage 4: The Final Stage

During this last and most acute stage of gum disease, all of the supporting fibers and bone are destroyed. All teeth may need to be removed and replaced with implants. Eating is quite difficult, if not impossible. There will be significant movement and displacement of the teeth. It is imperative to visit a dentist at this point. Advanced periodontal disease can lead to other, extremely serious, health problems such as blood poisoning and heart complications.

Periodontal Therapy

The early stages of gum disease can be healed with proper brushing, flossing, and a quick visit to a dental professional. Good oral health will help control plaque buildup. Being diagnosed with any of the periodontitis stages demands management for life. Periodontitis has 3 grades of progression: slow, moderate, and rapid. The quicker the development, the sooner you should seek treatment.   

How Is Gum Recession Treated?

Once gums start to recede, they will not grow back, so nursing at the earliest stage is crucial. If you spot any symptoms, contact a dental professional to evaluate the proper cause and suggest a care procedure immediately. The early stages of gum disease can often improve with diligent oral health practices. Professional cleaning is the only way to eliminate plaque that has hardened. Your dentist or hygienist can scale the tartar from above and below the gum line. 

Debridement is a customary deep cleaning technique that thoroughly eradicates the bacteria and calculus from your gums. Antibiotics might be prescribed if it is determined that you have an infection. Also, try switching to a specialized toothpaste for combating plaque and preventing receding gums. If noninvasive attempts are unsuccessful because of excess trauma and loss of bone, surgery may be required. 

Surgical Periodontal Treatment

Open flap scaling and root planing: If the bone supporting your teeth has been destroyed, a periodontal specialist will rid all pockets by folding back the affected gums, clearing all the harmful bacteria then re-securing the tissue into place. Root planing smooths the surface of the root to keep contaminants from bonding underneath the gum line. A membrane, graft tissue, or a stimulating protein, is inserted and sealed in to encourage the regeneration of bone and tissue.

Soft tissue graft:  With a subepithelial connective tissue graft, a flap of skin is cut from the roof of your mouth. The inside tissue is procured and stitched to the sickly gums. Another option called a free gingival graft takes skin directly from the palate, instead of underneath. If you have enough gum tissue, the dentist might opt to use the flesh for a pedicle graft.

How Can I Prevent Gum Recession?

The best way to prevent gum recession is outstanding oral hygiene and periodontal care:

  • Brush your teeth thoroughly after every meal and snack.
  • Floss daily.
  • Only use a soft toothbrush and do not forget to replace it every three months. Ask your dentist how to brush efficiently.
  • Invest in an electric toothbrush to remove plaque better.
  • Use a mouthwash to help rinse away food particles and bacteria.
  • Don't smoke or chew tobacco.
  • Consume a nutritious, well-balanced diet.
  • Get regular professional dental cleanings and check-ups.