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Gum disease is a dental condition that is the number one cause of adult tooth loss, and impacts overall health. Treating gum disease can be an involved process, depending on how advanced the condition has progressed. Patients with gum disease often need to manage it as a chronic condition to improve oral health long-term. Dr. Stopka warns her patients in Burr Ridge that gum disease can be silent, often not becoming symptomatic until it has progressed and caused irreversible damage. Because of this, she encourages all her patients to know the signs of gum disease and how you can prevent the condition from ruining your health.
A diagnosis of gum disease begins with plaque, a sticky biofilm that adheres to the teeth, gums, and tooth roots. How does it get stuck on the teeth? Bacteria are found naturally in the mouth and continuously form plaque, which we eliminate through brushing and flossing. When plaque is not removed, it begins to harden and form tartar, a substance that cannot be removed through at home brushing. Tartar build-up requires professional cleaning by a dentist or hygienist.
When plaque and tartar are left on the teeth, the bacteria release acids that cause inflammation of the gum tissue known as gingivitis. In gingivitis, patients will notice red, swollen gums that bleed. Gingivitis is the mildest form of gum disease that can be reversed with improved oral hygiene and regular dental cleaning by a professional. Gingivitis does not cause bone loss.
If gingivitis is not treated, it can progress to increasingly severe levels of periodontitis. In periodontitis, the gums separate from the teeth, forming pockets where bacteria are trapped and cause infection. As periodontitis progresses, the bacterial infection triggers an immune response that causes the body to break down bone and tissue holding teeth in place. Eventually teeth will begin to loosen and fall out or require extraction.
There are certain risk factors that can increase your chances of developing gum disease.
Because the condition doesn’t always show symptoms until it’s advanced, it may be hard for individuals to know if they have gum disease. You should see your dentist as soon as possible if you have any of the following symptoms:
Treatment for gum disease depends on how far it has progressed. The goal is to eliminate the infection and stop the loss of gum tissue, bone, and teeth whenever possible. With all treatments, it’s important to improve oral hygiene at home to keep the mouth healthy. Patients who smoke are encouraged to quit, as it can improve the outcome of treatment.
While gum disease can be difficult to treat, it’s relatively easy to prevent. The following steps can keep your teeth and gums healthy:
We invite patients in the Burr Ridge area to call Janet S. Stopka, DDS, PC today to schedule an exam to learn more about gum disease and how you can prevent it.
With over two decades of experience, Dr. Janet S. Stopka is a driven, passionate and renowned professional in the field of dentistry. Her ability to provide patient-centered care and insistence on healthy biological dentistry has created an environment of trust and comfort amongst herself and her patients.
Whilst being a patient-oriented expert, she is also a strong advocate of mercury safe dentistry and invests in the latest technological equipment to assist and reduce risk during complicated dental procedures.
She is also a progressive and keen member of the IAOMT (International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology).