If you believe that most people maintain an adequate level of dental hygiene, you should know that approximately 80% of adults in America have gum disease to some extent. In all fairness, this isn’t an accurate gauge of day-to-day dental hygiene. Once gum disease progresses past its initial phase, it becomes incurable, although it is treatable and manageable with a strict dental hygiene routine. Dr. Donald Coon, your Sheridan family dentist, explains the development and progression of gum disease, as well as what treatment typically entails during the disease’s various stages.
What is Gum Disease?
Unlike tooth decay, gum disease bypasses your teeth’s main structures and instead attacks the gum tissue and jawbone that support them. Although the disease typically stems from a minor bacterial infection, it can progress into a beast of an illness that destroys your mouth’s ability to function properly. As destructive as it is, gum disease can typically trace its origin to meager beginnings.
If you’ve ever run your tongue across your teeth and felt a sticky substance accumulated on their surfaces, you’ve encountered dental plaque, which is the product of oral bacteria congregating in your mouth. The germs form the biofilm to protect themselves and allow them to cling to your mouth’s surfaces, i.e. teeth and gums. Their presence can irritate your gum tissue, causing it to become inflamed and separate from your teeth. If your gums are red, swollen, and/or bleeding, then you likely have gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease. When caught early, gingivitis can typically be reversed with a thorough periodontal cleaning that removes bacterial plaque and tartar (hardened plaque) from underneath your gum line. Antibiotics may be prescribed to help stave off further microbial infection, and an improved hygiene regimen can help you keep your gums healthy.
Not treating gingivitis allows it to progress to periodontitis—severe gum disease. At this point, gum disease will continue its destruction of your periodontal tissue and continue working its way towards your very jawbone. In time, your gums and jaw will no longer be able to support your teeth, and tooth loss may ensue. Depending on its severity, treating periodontitis may entail rectifying the damage that has been wreaked, and a periodontist (gum health specialist) may be required. Untreated gum disease remains the number one cause of adult tooth loss in America.
Better Gum Health for Your Whole Family with Your Sheridan Dentist
To learn more about protecting your oral health from gum disease, or the consequences of not doing so, schedule a consultation with your Sheridan family dentist by contacting Grinnell Street Dental at (307) 672-7567. Located in the 82801 are, we welcome patients from Sheridan, WY and all surrounding communities.