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What is Gum Disease

Caring for your teeth is important, but so is caring for your gums. Your gums are part of the foundation for your teeth, protecting the bone and the tooth's roots. Inadequate oral care along with plaque can cause this strong foundation to recede leaving the more sensitive part of your tooth exposed and your gum and bone damaged.

Gum disease also known as periodontal disease is a bacterial infection that is caused by the bacteria found in plaque. It can cause damage to the gum and underlying bone and cause tooth loss. Periodontal actually means ‘around the tooth'. When this infection attacks the health around the tooth and is left untreated, it can lead to tooth loss regardless if the tooth is healthy.

There are two forms of gum disease based on the stage of infection it has reached: gingivitis and periodontitis. The mildest of the two forms is gingivitis, which in most cases with treatment is reversible. With this disease your gums will bleed and become swollen and red. Typically gingivitis causes no real discomfort, nevertheless it is important that you receive care and treatment before it progresses into periodontitis. The more severe form of gum disease is periodontitis. Periodontitis comes in several forms: aggressive periodontitis, chronic periodontitis, as a manifestation of systemic diseases, and necrotizing. During the periodontitis stage, plaque grows and extends down below the gum line where the bacteria release toxins causing the gums to become irritated. Eventually the foundation (bone and gum tissue) are slowly and irreversibly damaged. In time the teeth will start to become loose, and possibly fall out or have to be removed.

Aggressive periodontitis can occur in those who are even in good general health and can be difficult to control. Bone loss and gum damage can occur quickly. Chronic periodontitis is the most frequent form of periodontitis where bone loss and gum damage occur more slowly over time. As a manifestion of systemic diseases, periodontitis is stemmed from other diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and respiratory disease. The necrotizing form of periodontitis is often found in those with conditions stemming from HIV, immunosuppression, and malnutrition.

It is important to visit your dentist at least every six months for preventive measures. The sooner gum disease is treated the better the outcome.

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