What Causes Gum Disease ?
Healthy gums are pink in colour and have a sharp outline. They generally do not bleed on brushing.
Gum disease can be divided into two stages:
Stage 1: Gingivitis is a superficial infection of the gums This causes Redness, Bleeding in Gums and Bad Odour.
The following picture shows unhealthy gums which are swollen and have become red.
Stage 2: Periodontitis is an infection of the underlying bone. This causes Spacing between teeth, Mobility of teeth, and Receding gums causing pain.
Gum disease is a totally preventable disease if treated early.
Tooth loss is mostly caused due to gum disease. This process is very slow and is painless at the early stages, due to which we do not pay any attention to it until it is too late. All this can be prevented if it is attended to early and is given the proper treatment.
What causes gum disease?
The food we eat combines with the saliva and bacteria present in the mouth to form a sticky coating called plaque. The bacteria present in the plaque cause the gum infection. If this plaque is not removed on a daily basis, it will get mineralized to form a stony crust called calculus or tartar. It is not possible for you to remove this calculus. The bacteria in the plaque produce toxins, which lead to swelling of the gums and bone destruction. When sufficient bone has been lost, the tooth will become mobile. The progress of the disease depends on individual health and resistance to disease. There may be no activity for years, and then when resistance decreases temporarily, gum disease appears or flares-up.
Different Stages of Gum Diseases
The above picture is showing a cross-section. These are Normal healthy gums
The gums are swollen, now an instrument can penetrate a few millimetres between the gums and the teeth. This stage is called as Gingivitis.
The supporting bone is getting destroyed. The gums may recede from the teeth. The instrument can now penetrate a few more millimetres. Plaque and tartar is seen on the root surfaces of the teeth. This stage is called as Periodontitis.
There is further recession of the bone due to which the instrument can now penetrate even more. The supporting bone is now even more destroyed. Pus discharge is now possible along with pain. This stage can be called as Advanced Periodontitis.
Prevention is always better than cure!
It is very important to stop calculus from forming on your teeth. You can do this simply by brushing the plaque off on a daily basis. Floss can be used to remove plaque that forms in-between teeth.
The only way you can detect gum disease is by going for regular dental check-ups. Your dentist will check for disease signs with a probe as well as with x-rays. Only a professional can diagnose gum disease in its early stages, when it is easiest to treat. Prevention and treatment of gum disease involves combined efforts by you and your dentist. Your dentist will remove the calculus present on your teeth. He will also check for other contributing factors - defective fillings, crowns, bite problems, etc. He will explain the correct method of brushing and flossing, and will provide maintenance care after the initial treatment. You are required to put in your efforts towards daily brushing and flossing, and following other instructions.