What Is Gum Disease?

How Gum Disease Starts

Your mouth naturally produces a sticky substance called plaque. Without adequate brushing and flossing, this plaque builds up on your teeth. The bacteria in plaque produce poisons, or toxins, which irritate the gums, causing infection. As the infection increases in severity, it breaks down the bones and tissues that hold your teeth in place.

The Two Primary Stages of Gum Disease

Gingivitis: The initial stage of gum disease, known as gingivitis, is the mildest form of gum disease. During this stage, the gums become swollen and red, and may bleed with brushing or flossing. Gingivitis is frequently painless, and as a result, many people suffering from it don’t seek advice or treatment. But with professional treatment and daily attention to oral hygiene, gingivitis can be reversed before it progresses.

Periodontitis: Untreated gingivitis may develop into periodontitis, the more extreme form of gum disease. In this stage, the infected gums begin to separate from the teeth. The newly created spaces between the gums and the teeth are called pockets. As the disease progresses, these pockets grow larger, allowing for greater damage to deep tissues as well as bone. When enough tissue and bone are affected, the teeth loosen and may fall out or need to be removed.

Signs To Watch For

Because gum disease can exist without pain or discomfort, it’s important to be aware of the possible warning signs that may indicate a problem.

If you suspect that you may be suffering from gingivitis or periodontitis, make an appointment with our office or your dentist immediately. We can diagnose the problem, determine how far the disease has progressed, and recommend an appropriate treatment.

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