Gum disease is a common oral health problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly half of all American adults over age 30 have some form of gum disease. That figure shoots up to 70% for adults over age 65.
Yet, while gum disease is prevalent and the risk of developing it increases with age, it’s not inevitable. Even though some people have a higher risk due to factors like genetics and family history, gum disease is largely preventable and most treatable when caught early.
Our dentists and dental team offer a range of family dentistry services at Manhasset Dental Arts in Manhasset, New York. In this post, we explain what you should know about gum disease, its available treatments, and how to prevent it.
The three stages of gum disease
The sooner you can recognize gum disease, the better. Here’s what to expect as it progresses.
The first and earliest stage of gum disease is gingivitis. This occurs when plaque and tartar buildup lead to gum inflammation.
The most common signs and symptoms of gingivitis are red, puffy gums, bad breath, sensitivity, and bleeding. Gingivitis is usually caused by poor oral hygiene. However, poor nutrition, genetics, underlying health factors, and lifestyle factors like smoking can also increase your risk.
Gingivitis is usually treated with a deep cleaning to remove plaque and tartar buildup. Gingivitis can be reversed when treated early, so it’s important not to ignore any symptoms and to practice good oral hygiene. The American Dental Association (ADA) also recommends regular dental exams and cleanings every six months for most people.
The second stage of gum disease is moderate periodontitis. When gingivitis goes untreated and progresses to periodontitis, the underlying bone and soft tissue that supports your teeth start to erode and increase your risk of advanced periodontitis.
Bone and tissue loss are irreversible, but certain treatments can minimize the damage. Periodontitis causes pockets to form between your teeth and gums, trapping bacteria and increasing your risk of infection and gum recession. Depending on the extent of damage, our dentists can repair gum loss and damage with treatments like Pinhole gum grafting or LANAP™.
Advanced periodontitis is late-stage gum disease. Late-stage gum disease increases your risk of tooth loss and can also cause changes to your bite and how your teeth fit together, making it more difficult to eat and even speak clearly.
Depending on the extent of damage and tooth loss, our team may recommend dental implants or full mouth rehabilitation, which includes customized dental treatments according to your unique needs.
What you can do to protect yourself from gum disease
Prevention is the best weapon against gum disease. Start by brushing your teeth after meals and flossing every day. If it’s been more than six months since your last dental exam and cleaning, schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Sometimes, gum disease doesn’t present obvious symptoms, so you can’t always tell if your teeth and gums are healthy just by looking at them.
Avoid smoking and tobacco products. Also, let us know if you take any medication, have a family history of gum disease, or have any underlying health problems that might affect your oral health and dental treatments.
For more information about gum disease and to learn more about how to lower your risk and protect your oral health, contact Manhasset Dental Arts today to schedule an appointment.