Gingivitis refers to inflammation of the gums around the teeth. Eventually, it advances and becomes periodontal disease, which is when the infection moves to the bone below the gums.
During its earliest stage, gum disease is known as gingivitis. Most commonly the result of poor oral health, gingivitis causes gums to become red and swollen.
Pain is minimal in the beginning, so many do not notice until the disease has progressed considerably. Bleeding gums are a sure sign that you have gingivitis. Other symptoms include having a bad taste in your mouth or having bad breath on a regular basis.
It is extremely important to visit a dentist at the first signs of gingivitis because if left untreated it will eventually progress into full-blown periodontitis.
Periodontitis is a serious condition. The gums to pull away from the tooth and form deep pockets where bacteria collects. If this bacteria continues to fester, it leads to chronic inflammation and infection.
As it hardens into plaque, this bacteria pushes further under the gum line and into the deeper gum tissue and eventually the bones. At this point, teeth can become loose and you may require extractions.
Common Forms of Periodontitis
There are several types of periodontitis, they include:
When inflammation within the supporting tissues of the teeth is not treated, chronic periodontitis develops. This leads to progressively deeper gum pockets and eventual bone loss. This is the most common type of periodontitis.
Periodontitis as a Result of Systemic Diseases
This usually begins at a young age as a result of damage from chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and respiratory disease.
Necrotizing Periodontal Disease: As the name implies, necrotizing periodontal disease is a serious infection that leads to the death of parts of the gum. This necrosis can also affect the ligaments and bones in the jaw.
This type of periodontitis is usually diagnosed in those who have conditions that affect several body systems, such as HIV, malnutrition, and a compromised immune system.
How Is Gum Disease Treated?
Because of how serious it can become, it is important to visit your dentist immediately if you think you may have a type of gum disease.
At your appointment, your dentist will measure your gum pockets (the spaces between the gums and teeth).
Your Dentist will “chart” or measure these pockets using six different measurements for each tooth. He or she will place a probe between the tooth and gums in order to find the bottom of the pocket, or where the gum attachment starts.
If you are diagnosed with gingivitis, you will be told to follow a more strict hygiene regimen and possibly given a prescription mouth rinse.
More severe gum disease may require quicker action such as deep cleaning below the gum line to remove debris and plaque from gum pockets.
Surgery is sometimes required in more advanced cases to remove tartar below the gum lines or to remove the infection from surrounding tissues. If enough damage has occurred, reconstructive surgery may be necessary to replace corroded gum or bone.