Contrary to popular belief, gingivitis and gum disease are not interchangeable terms. Gingivitis is actually gum disease at its very mildest. Gum disease, also referred to as periodontal disease, generally occurs when there’s an infection in the gums.
Periodontal or Gum Disease
Gum disease happens when the gums, which are essentially the soft tissue in your mouth, get infected. Specifically, when plaque gets involved, it tends to build up on teeth. That tends to be a direct result of improper dental hygiene. Tartar can also happen, which is essentially hardened, built-up plaque. At that point, a dental professional will lead need to come into play; unlike plaque, tartar cannot be addressed by extensive brushing and flossing.
Needless to say, your dentist will be the one to diagnose whether or not you actually have gum disease. He or she will do their best to trace the development or progression of your condition. Starting from your medical history, the dental team will then search for signs that are on the more blatant end. The likes of smoking, hormones, certain medications, and even AIDS/HIV can trigger symptoms like bleeding gums. Excessive buildup of plaque and tartar also falls under this category. Another thing that a dental exam will look into is the pocket depth; in some cases, x-rays might be in order.
What Are the Symptoms of Gum Disease?
There are a number of symptoms that pertain to gum disease. Some of the most common ones include, but are not limited to:
- Bleeding, tender gums
- Chewing brings pain
- Gums that are receding
- Loose teeth
- Persistent halitosis (bad breath)
- Sensitive teeth
- Swollen, red gums
How Is Gum Disease Treated?
Treatment for gum disease varies on a case-to-case basis, since no two people suffering from it are going through the exact same experience. People in the earlier stages to the “middle” point may have non-surgical treatments recommended by their dentists, such as:
- Antibiotics – Whether oral or topical, these are great for infection control.
- Root planing – As the name suggests, root surfaces are smoothed out with this. Inflammation is prevented because the buildup is removed. Additionally, it addresses the need to prevent further bacteria growth.
- Scaling – Bacteria and tartar gets taken from both the gumline’s underside and from teeth.
People in the more severe or difficult stages of gum disease, however, will need surgical treatments. Some of the more popular ones include the likes of bone grafting, flap surgery, and soft tissue grafts.
Can Gum Disease Be Cured?
As previously mentioned, the mildest stage of gum disease is gingivitis. It’s easy to deal with, and your dentist will absolutely catch it during a routine checkup. However, as it develops, it goes beyond curing and can only get treatment. The slightest hint of gum disease should be brought up immediately with your dentist.
Periodontal disease, commonly known as gum disease, is a condition only dentists can diagnose. It refers to an infection of the gums that needs to be addressed, usually brought about by poor dental hygiene. Symptoms include bleeding gums, and only the earliest stage, gingivitis, can be cured. Otherwise, a dental treatment plan is in order.
Need a dentist in Raleigh to address gum disease? Reach out to Dr. Thomas E. Cooke Family Dentistry today! Our practice is rooted in family dentistry, and we have a full range of patient-oriented dental services to keep your teeth and mouth healthy.