You’ve been busy preparing for the holiday season, so you haven’t been flossing as much as you should have. Your gums have been bleeding a little every time you brush. Are these two things related? As it turns out, yes. Not flossing can increase your risk for gum disease, a dangerous condition that is assumed to affect up to 80% of the population. Once you have gum disease, can it be cured? Read on as we explore that question and more.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a bacterial infection in the gum tissue. If your gums are sore, tender, red, or bleed when you brush and floss, you might have the beginning stage of gum disease, known as gingivitis. If gingivitis progresses to the second stage, called periodontitis, bacteria start attacking the structures that keep your teeth anchored in place. In fact, gum disease is the number one cause of tooth loss in the United States.
How Does Gum Disease Develop?
Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria in dental plaque, which is a sticky, colorless film of bacteria that forms constantly on your teeth. Daily brushing and flossing can disrupt plaque, but if you neglect your oral hygiene, plaque hardens into a substance called tartar. Only a dentist or dental hygienist can remove tartar.
Gingivitis manifests as bleeding gums, persistent bad breath, and tender or sore gums. Periodontitis, however, causes more serious damage. At this point, bacteria in plaque and tartar have begun destroying your gum tissue. This may result in your teeth becoming loose or even falling out!
Can Gum Disease Be Cured?
While gingivitis can be treated with an increased oral hygiene regimen at home, and possibly a dental cleaning, periodontitis is a bit more complicated to treat. However, it is possible. There are a few different methods that your dentist can employ, such as:
Scaling and Root Planing
Scaling involves removing bacteria from underneath the gumline. Root planing entails smoothing the rough surfaces of the tooth roots to make it more difficult for bacteria to stick to them.
Your dentist may apply a topical antibiotic to your gum tissue, and/or prescribe an oral antibiotic to help your body fight off the infection.
Sometimes, traditional approaches to gum disease treatment simply don’t work. If so, your dentist can perform a DNA test using a sample of your saliva. This test will determine whether you are genetically predisposed to having gum disease. It also lets your dental team know what specific strains of bacteria must be addressed.
So, can gum disease be cured? Yes. However, when it comes to dental problems, an ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure. Practice excellent oral hygiene to keep your teeth and gums disease-free!
About the Author
Dr. Frank Michitti is a graduate of the Ohio State University College of Dentistry. He has also been recognized as a “Top 1% Dentist” for achieving Mastership status with the prestigious Academy of General Dentistry. This means you can rest assured that he cares about knowing the latest techniques and best practices in modern dentistry. His practice also offers several forms of periodontal therapy to help treat gum disease. If you think you may have periodontal disease, you can contact Dr. Michitti at (413) 786-4400.