About Gum Disease

If you have been told you have periodontal (gum) disease, you’re not alone. Many adults in the U.S. currently have some form of the disease. Periodontal diseases range from simple gum inflammation to serious disease that results in major damage to the soft tissue and bone that support the teeth. In the worst cases, teeth are lost.

Whether your gum disease is stopped, slowed, or gets worse depends a great deal on how well you care for your teeth and gums every day, from this point forward.

How do I know if I have gum disease?

Symptoms of gum disease include:

  • Bad breath that won’t go away
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Tender or bleeding gums
  • Painful chewing
  • Loose teeth
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Receding gums or longer appearing teeth

Risk Factors
  Smoking.  Need another reason to quit smoking?  Smoking is one of the most significant risk factors associated with the development of gum disease.  Additionally, smoking can lower the chances for successful treatment.
•  Diabetes.  People with diabetes are at higher risk for developing infections, including gum disease. 
•  Hormonal changes in girls/women. These changes can make gums more sensitive and make it easier for gingivitis to develop.

•  Other illnesses and their treatments . Diseases such as AIDS and its treatments can negatively affect the health of gums, as can treatments for cancer. 
•  Medications. There are hundreds of prescription and over the counter medications that can reduce the flow of saliva, which has a protective effect on the mouth. Without enough saliva, the mouth is vulnerable to infections such as gum disease. And some medicines can cause abnormal overgrowth of the gum tissue; this can make it difficult to keep teeth and gums clean.
•  Genetic susceptibility.  Some people are more prone to severe gum disease than others

Who gets gum disease?

People usually don’t show signs of gum disease until they are in their 30s or 40s. Men are more likely to have gum disease than women. Although teenagers rarely develop periodontitis, they can develop gingivitis, the milder form of gum disease. Most commonly, gum disease develops when plaque is allowed to build up along and under the gum line.

How is gum disease treated?

The main goal of treatment is to control your infection and freeze the process of bone loss. The number and types of treatment will vary, depending on the extent of the gum disease. Any type of treatment requires that the patient keep up good daily care at home. We may also suggest changing certain behaviors, such as quitting smoking, as a way to improve your outcome.

What is Deep Cleaning (Scaling and Root Planing)?

When you need deep cleaning, we will remove your build-up and plaque through a deep-cleaning method called scaling and root planing. Scaling means scraping off the tartar from above and below the gum line. Root planing gets rid of rough spots on the tooth root where the germs gather, and helps remove bacteria that contribute to the disease. We ensure that you are comfortable by using special comfort gels that numb your gums without the need for an injection.

How can I keep my teeth and gums healthy?

  • Brush your teeth twice a day (with a fluoride toothpaste).
  • Floss regularly to remove plaque from between teeth. Or use a device such as a special brush or wooden or plastic pick recommended by a dental professional.
  • Visit the dentist routinely for a check-up and professional cleaning.
  • Don’t smoke

Can gum disease cause health problems beyond the mouth? 

In some studies, researchers have observed that people with gum disease (when compared to people without gum disease) were more likely to develop heart disease or have difficulty controlling blood sugar. Other studies showed that women with gum disease were more likely than those with healthy gums to deliver preterm, low birth weight babies. But so far, it has not been determined whether gum disease is the cause of these conditions.

There may be other reasons people with gum disease sometimes develop additional health problems.

For example, something else may be causing both the gum disease and the other condition, or it could be a coincidence that gum disease and other health problems are present together.

More research is needed to clarify whether gum disease actually causes health problems beyond the mouth, and whether treating gum disease can keep other health conditions from developing.

In the meantime, it’s a fact that controlling gum disease can save your teeth – a very good reason to take care of your teeth and gums.

Schedule an appointment at our Manteca office today. Call (209) 825-6000.

To learn more, access these trusted links:

1. MedlinePlus: Gum Disease
The NIH National Library of Medicine's compilation of links to government, professional and non-profit/voluntary organizations with information on periodontal disease and gingivitis.

2. Enfermedad de las encías o enfermedad periodontal - Causas, síntomas y tratamientos
Spanish version of "Periodontal (Gum) Diseases".  This brochure is for people with gum disease. It discusses the causes, diagnosis, and treatment options.