PRACTICE UPDATE: We are now open for normal business hours and seeing patients! Before your appointment, click here for more information. If you have any questions about our updated appointment process or safety regulations, please give us a call at (615) 460-0123.

woman showing pink gumsPeriodontal (gum) disease is the most common cause of tooth loss among adults, but for many people, their problems start in their younger years. During this formative time of life, if healthy habits aren’t instilled and don’t become part of an everyday regimen, then the results can be troubling not only in adulthood but also childhood. As you read on, your dentist in Green Hills explains the causes of gum disease, how to recognize the symptoms, methods of prevention and much more.

What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is an oral condition that stems from negligence. The prime contributors are bacteria that have been allowed to grow and fester due to insufficient oral hygiene and failure to maintain dental visits for preventive care.

Over time, different types of bacteria can collect and form plaque – a sticky, clear substance that clings to the teeth and if not removed, will eventually seep beneath the gumline. The result can be puffy, swollen, irritated gums that easily bleed.

Other Symptoms of Gum Disease

Here are some of the other warning signs of gum disease to be on the lookout for:

  • Constant bad breath – If normal oral hygiene habits like brushing and flossing aren’t able to freshen breath, then it could be a sign of acute bacteria growth related to gum disease.
  • Dry mouth – A constantly dry mouth is the environment of choice for bacteria to survive in and can be a sign of gum disease.
  • Gum recession – A sign of a more advanced form of gum disease is gum recession. This occurs when the bacteria have worn down the soft tissue, leaving the teeth more vulnerable to falling out.

The Different Effects on Children and Adults

The same factors that cause gum disease in adults also initiate the disease in children. The reality, though, is that for many adults, poor oral hygiene and care have been a lifelong problem. People who have histories of recurring cavities as children are usually more likely to suffer from gum disease as adults.

The main difference between the two age groups, though, is that it’s more common to find the advanced form of gum disease (periodontitis) among adults. By the time the condition escalates to this level, the roots of the teeth in the affected area have begun to dissolve and the connective fibers and bone have been destroyed, leaving the teeth susceptible to falling out.

How to Treat Gum Disease

The best form of treatment for gum disease is prevention. When you and your children go in to visit your family dentist in Green Hills semi-annually for cleanings and checkups, you are taking a proactive step to prevent gum disease.

Another line of defense is your oral hygiene. Consistently brushing and flossing every day helps to rid the mouth, teeth and gums of the harmful bacteria that lead to gum disease.

If your dentist discovers that you have this condition, though, here are some of the possible treatment options:

  • Deep Cleaning – Also called scaling and root planing, the procedure involves either the dentist or hygienist clearing tartar from above and beneath the gumline. Then any rough areas are smoothed along the roots to hinder more bacteria from gathering there in the future.
  • Medications – Your dentist may also recommend that you take a medication to treat your gum disease. There are several options available that range from antimicrobial tablets to mouthwash.
  • Flap Surgery – A flap surgery may be necessary if a deep cleaning can’t get the tartar that’s trapped in the deep pockets that can develop beneath the gumline. This procedure involves your dentist folding the gums back to expose the pockets so the infected material can be removed.

With the advancements in dentistry, neither you nor your children have to live with gum disease and its negative effects. By working with your dentist, you can fully recover and go on to lead happy and healthy lives.

About the Author

Dr. Clayton Cummings earned his dental degree from the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry and has remained dedicated to sharpening his skills through continuing education courses and his affiliation with several professional organizations. Dr. Cummings helps patients overcome the woes of gum disease at Advanced Dental Health and can be reached for more information through his website.