Safest Teeth Whiteners
The safest ways to whiten your teeth explained
Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is an infection of the tissue that surrounds the teeth. It is caused by the hardening of plaque (bacteria buildup) that turns into tartar (hardened plaque) over time. This leads to infection and inflammation.
Gum disease results from poor brushing and flossing. It causes swelling, bleeding, and painful chewing. If left untreated, gum disease can lead to tooth and bone loss.
Factors that increase the risk of developing gum disease include:
According to a recent CDC report:1
Periodontal disease is more common in men than women (56.4% vs 38.4%), those living below the federal poverty level (65.4%), those with less than a high school education (66.9%), and current smokers (64.2%).
The primary goal of treating gum disease is to remove the buildup of tartar, thereby preventing the bacteria from spreading and causing bone loss. The type of gum disease treatment varies depending on the severity of the disease, including non-surgical and surgical therapies.
The most common non-surgical treatments for gum disease include:
Deep cleaning involves removing plaque and tartar from the gums with a method called scaling and root planing.
Scaling is the process of scraping the tartar from above and below the gum line. Root planing removes rough tartar spots from the tooth’s root where disease-causing bacteria gather. Deep cleaning can cause bleeding, gum swelling, and discomfort.
Medications treat pain and control infection. They are also used in combination with surgical gum disease treatments.
Common medications used to treat gum disease include:
A laser also removes plaque and tartar from the gum line as an alternative to deep cleaning. Laser treatment decreases the chance of swelling, bleeding, and discomfort associated with scaling and root planing.
Gum disease surgery may be required if deep cleaning and medication don’t control infection or if gum disease is severe and deep pockets remain.
Flap surgery removes tartar under the gums, then sutures them back in place. This ensures the gum tissue is tight against the tooth and reduces the size of periodontal pockets.
After healing from flap surgery, it is easier to clean and maintain healthy gums.
Gum disease can lead to bone loss around the tooth root.
A bone graft involves placing natural or synthetic bone to stimulate regrowth where the bone is lost.
Gum disease also destroys soft tissue.
A soft tissue graft uses a synthetic mesh material or natural tissue from your mouth to cover exposed tooth roots. This process helps reduce gum recession and improves the appearance of your smile.
Guided tissue regeneration is a technique used with bone grafting.
The procedure places a mesh-like material in between the bone and connective tissue to prevent tissue from growing where bone should be.
Early gum disease, called gingivitis, can be treated at home to prevent infection and progression of the disease.
The primary way of reducing plaque and tartar buildup is to maintain good oral hygiene. This means you should:
If left untreated, gum disease can cause tooth and bone loss. Uncontrolled infection can also put you at a higher risk for other systemic diseases, including cardiovascular and lung disease.
Other complications of untreated gum disease include:
Gum disease is reversible and preventable by practicing good oral hygiene. The most effective things you can do to keep your gums healthy are to:
The cost to treat gum disease varies depending on the severity of the disease, geographical location of treatment, and if you have dental insurance.
Depending on these factors, gum disease treatment can range from $500 to $10,000.6
After gum disease treatment, you may also need maintenance therapies, which can add to the cost.
Estimated costs for these procedures are:
After an initial diagnosis, a dentist might refer you to a periodontist (a dentist specializing in gum disease) for further treatment and evaluation.
Periodontal gum disease is a bacterial infection of gum tissue. Plaque and tartar buildup are the primary cause. If left untreated, it can cause severe complications like bone loss, which causes loose teeth.
Gum disease is treated with both surgical and non-surgical procedures. The goal is to remove tartar and promote the reattachment of healthy gums to teeth.
You can prevent gum disease by practicing good oral hygiene. This involves brushing twice a day, flossing regularly, and getting routine dental check-ups and cleanings.