Patient Education

Periodontal Disease: Gingivitis and Periodontitis

Are you concerned you have gum disease? It’s a common problem, affecting an estimated 64 million American adults. It’s estimated that a large portion of those cases are undiagnosed, because gum disease can be difficult for a person without a dental background to identify the symptoms. Knowledge is power, and that’s especially true when it comes to your teeth and oral health. Providing awareness of the symptoms (and the consequences) of oral disease is one of the easiest things our practice can do to help eliminate common dental problems for our patients in our hometown of Edmund, OK, and anyone else we can reach online! We’re passionate in our belief that with the right information and habits (with regular help from your dentist), anyone can have a beautiful, healthy smile. In our last post, we talked about plaque, the cause of gum disease. Today, we’ll dig into the two types of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontitis. Understanding the Inflammatory Response As you choice for dentist in Edmond, OK, we want to let you now that before we get into the specifics of each type of gum disease, you need to understand a little something about the inflammation response, one of your body’s most powerful weapons in the fight against infection. A common misconception that many people have is thinking that gingivitis and periodontitis are what we call the infecting bacteria. They aren’t; they’re different degrees of inflammation. If you’ve ever had a bug bite, the redness, swelling, itching and other discomfort you experienced is the inflammation response. When an area of your body is inflamed, several of your body’s systems work together to eradicate an infection in that area. The inflammation response is a very effective weapon, but it’s so powerful your body can’t handle it for very long. If the infection is well-established (as in gum disease), the inflammation response will work for too long and start to destroy the body’s own tissues. This is called chronic inflammation. In fact, recent medical research has connected chronic inflammation to a number of serious physical ailments and problems. Meet Gingivitis Gingivitis is the less intense type of gum disease; in fact, it’s often referred to as the “first stage” of gum disease, because untreated gingivitis will eventually develop into periodontitis. The good news here is that if gingivitis is caught before it turns into periodontitis, it can be easily reversed with help from your dentist and by developing good oral health habits at home. Brush, floss, and rinse twice a day, and make and keep your dental appointments, at least twice a year! That’s really all it takes to control and prevent gingivitis. The symptoms of gingivitis are fairly easy to recognize on your own. Are your gums red or swollen? Do they seem to bleed easily (while you’re brushing or flossing)? If so, you probably have gingivitis, and you need to make the first move before it gets worse. Your dentist can help, so you should make a call to our office immediately to get it taken care of, because if you don’t, it will become periodontitis. That is much more difficult to reverse and is much more serious. Meet Periodontitis When gingivitis goes unaddressed, periodontitis is the result. In periodontitis, plaque has grown deep under the gum line, triggering the inflammation response. Your gums will become irritated (though you won’t necessarily feel it) and soon they’ll actually pull away from the teeth. This creates spaces called “pockets”. Pockets are prime bacterial real estate, and bacteria crowd into them in huge numbers. They eat, reproduce, and create more and more of the acidic soup that is their waste. As a result, the pockets get deeper and deeper, causing more inflammation. If left long enough, the tissues and bone that hold your teeth in place will start to dissolve and be destroyed. Eventually, this will lead to tooth loss. Your teeth will either fall out or they’ll need to be extracted, and neither option is much of a picnic. Gum Disease Is Treatable, But You Have To Take Action Now! If you think you might have gingivitis, we encourage you to make an appointment with us as soon as possible. We offer comprehensive gum disease treatment for our patients. Remember: gingivitis is your alert system, letting you know that the much more serious periodontitis is just around the corner (if you fail to act fast). Contact My Santa Fe Dental now! Make an appointment with us online, or call our office at 405-757-2030.

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Periodontal Disease: Understanding the Causes

Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is widespread in the US. The Centers for Disease Control have recently reported that 50% of all adults over the age of 30 have one of the two types of gum disease (gingivitis and periodontitis). Gum disease is the number one cause of tooth loss for adults in the US. Santa Fe Dental (in Edmond, OK) offers gum disease treatment to help fight the problem in our community. However, treating gum disease starts with prevention, and that’s why we make an effort to educate our patients so that they can take the proper steps to keep gum disease under control in order to protect themselves and their families. In the next four posts, we’ll explore: The causes of gum disease (and what you can do at home to prevent it) The differences and the relationship between the two types of gum disease The risk factors for gum disease An overview of what to expect from gum disease treatment in our practice Plaque’s Role In Gum Disease Gum disease is caused by plaque. Plaque isn’t just a fuzzy substance on your teeth. Plaque is alive, and is a part of the bacterial ecosystem living in your mouth. The plaque itself is technically referred to as a biofilm: the bacteria are so crowded on the surface of your teeth that they stick together, providing an ideal environment for many kinds of bacteria to thrive. They can even “talk” to each other through a biochemical process called quorum sensing, which helps to regulate the bacterial population and keep the environment (your mouth) safe for bacteria. It’s a little freaky, but we think it’s also pretty cool! The bacteria live on whatever you’re eating, but their absolute favorite thing to eat is sugar, which comes from foods with a lot of carbohydrates such as candy, bread, or any food that’s heavily processed, or contains a lot of refined sugar. The more you eat, they eat, and the more they reproduce and generate waste. In this case, the waste is a mix of acidic fluids and other chemicals. These acids are what cause tooth decay and cavities. What Can I Do To Prevent Plaque Build-Up? Plaque is a natural part of having a mouth, and you can never fully eliminate it. However, you can reduce its impact by working hard to keep it in check. If you don’t, the plaque will turn into tartar, which is also called calculus. Calculus class is hard, but dental calculus is harder than bone, and it gets that way by absorbing minerals in your saliva. Tartar/Calculus is the perfect foundation for plaque to build up on and cause worse problems. It only takes 24 hours for plaque to become calculus! Being vigilant and disciplined about your oral health routine is the key to avoiding gum disease. This is especially true if you’ve just passed 30 years of age. Now is the time to build the good oral health habits that will last a lifetime. Think of your mouth as a lawn: without proper maintenance, the grass will get overgrown. It’s the same way with the oral bacteria that makes up plaque. You’ve got to physically cut it down to keep everything in order. That means regular oral health habits. Commit to it, and stick to at least a twice-a-day routine: Brushing Flossing (it will get easier) Rinsing with Mouthwash Of course, you should also see your dentist at least twice a year. Make the appointments at a convenient time and keep them! With enough neglect, the plaque will build-up to such a degree that it will start to make its way under the gum line. When this happens, gum disease is all but a certainty. CALL TO ACTION Gum Disease Is Treatable, But You Have To Take Action Now! Gum disease is everywhere, but it is also preventable and treatable. Making an appointment with your dentist is the first step. Contact My Santa Fe Dental now! Make an appointment with us online, or call our office at 405-757-2030.

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