Gum disease begins with bacterial plaque forming on the teeth and beneath the gums and your body responds with inflammation. Signs of gingivitis are redness, swelling and bleeding in the gums. It is usually caused by poor oral hygiene but can be exaggerated by certain drugs, hormones and systemic conditions. It is usually reversible and can be treated conservatively.
If left untreated, gingivitis may progress to periodontitis, which is loss of the supporting structures around the teeth. Bone loss begins to occur, which is irreversible. If left untreated, the disease may progress to advanced stages where loosening of the teeth occurs. It is important to recognize the disease at this stage as the treatments are more predictable.
If the disease progresses further and enough of the supporting bone is lost, there will be loosening and shifting of the teeth. Teeth may need to be extracted and this can cause problems with chewing and appearance. Treatments are less predictable at this stage, and options such as replacement with implants may be considered if teeth are hopeless.
47% of Americans, or 65 Million People have some form of Gum Disease. It is the leading cause of tooth loss other than dental decay. It is very important to maintain good home care and receive regular dental care to keep your teeth and gums healthy. More Information about gum disease can be found at the American Academy of Periodontology website.