Maintaining the health of your gums and the bone that supports your teeth is critical to having a healthy smile that will last a lifetime. Gingivitis and periodontitis are two common diseases of the gums. In almost all cases, untreated gingivitis leads to periodontitis. It is important to understand the difference between the two diseases so you are aware of the risk factors involved, and understand why your dentist is recommending a particular treatment.
Gingivitis occurs when bacterial plaque accumulates on the teeth around the gum line. This plaque causes the gums to become red and inflamed. One of the most common signs of gingivitis is gums that bleed while brushing and flossing. The effects of gingivitis are usually reversible if caught early enough. Often, regular dental cleanings and improved home care can return your gums to a healthy state.
If gingivitis goes untreated it can lead to periodontitis. The bacterial plaque causes calculus (also known as tartar) formation on the teeth and leads to destruction of the gums and bone that hold the teeth in place. This destruction leads to pockets that form below the gum line and are challenging to clean. If left untreated periodontal disease leads to tooth loss. In its early stages periodontal disease can be treated with a deep cleaning called scaling and root planing. In this treatment, the plaque and calculus that have formed in the pockets below the gum line are removed. After the scaling and root planing, regular follow-up dental care is critical to the success of the treatment. More advanced cases of periodontitis may require referral to a specialist for surgery and/or additional treatment.
There are many different risk factors that increase your risk of developing gingivitis and periodontitis. The first risk factor is poor oral home care. If you do not brush and floss regularly you are at risk for these diseases. Use of tobacco products also greatly increases your risk for developing these diseases and often lowers the success rate of treatment. Other risk factors include diabetes, changing hormonal levels, a weakened immune system, and certain medications.
Winter Park Dental is here to assist you with any questions you may have regarding your dental health. Feel free to give a call (970) 726-5556.