Gum disease, which begins as gingivitis and sometimes develops into periodontal disease, is a common affliction among dental patients. It is initially caused by plaque on the teeth that can accumulate and harden into tartar. Tartar is so attached to the teeth that it can only be removed during a professional dental cleaning.
With gingivitis, gums can become red and swollen, and may bleed easily when you brush and floss. While the gums may be irritated, the teeth are still strongly situated in their sockets, with no additional tissue damage or bone loss. If left untreated, gingivitis can develop into periodontitis, where the inner gum layer and the bone may pull away from the teeth and become infected. As the disease progresses, gum tissue and bone can be destroyed, resulting in tooth loss.
If your dentist suspects you have gum disease, he or she will measure the gap between the pocket of the gum and the nearby tooth. Each tooth will receive a number for its gum gap. The dentist uses a periodontal probe, like a tiny ruler, to take the measurements. The deeper the pocket, the more severe the gum disease. With healthy gums, the pockets are measured at 3 millimeters or less. Pockets measuring between 3-5 millimeters indicate signs of disease. Pockets greater than 5 millimeters indicate a serious condition that may include receding gums and bone loss.
If your dentist measures your gum gaps and your number is high, action will need to be taken. The first step will involve a deep cleaning to remove the buildup of tartar between the teeth and gums. A cracked tooth can also cause gum disease, so a bonding procedure or sealant application may solve the problem.
Regular dental check-ups are recommended for determining if a patient has gum disease or is at risk for it. Early detection is key. For more information about gum disease, please contact:
Webster Cosmetic Dentistry, Ltd.
1121 Warren Ave., Downers Grove, IL 60515