Dentist in Kirkland, WA explains the types of gum disease
Taking care of the teeth and gums involves more than just brushing and flossing after every meal. When patients maintain regular visits with their dentist in Kirkland, WA, they can avoid the development of conditions such as gum disease. This is especially true every six months with a cleaning and checkup. Dr. Ann Kelley of Kingsgate Dental encourages patients to learn more about the types of gum disease and the stages that cause damage to the smile.
What is gum disease?
Dr. Ann Kelley describes gum disease as a condition that can negatively impact the health of the teeth and gums. This condition is an infection that develops due to poor oral health care, and cannot be cured, only controlled. There are two types, or stages, of gum disease. They include:
- Gingivitis – the first stage of gum disease is referred to as gingivitis. Gingivitis is the milder form that can cause the soft gum tissues to become red and swollen. Patients with gingivitis may notice that their gums bleed when they brush and floss their teeth. This level of gum disease is reversible with professional treatment and appropriate home oral care. Treatment at this point is highly recommended to avoid the disease progressing to the later stages called periodontitis.
- Periodontitis – periodontitis is the later stage of gum disease that develops when gingivitis is left untreated. The plaque that grows on the teeth can spread down below the gum line. This plaque produces toxins that can not only irritate the gums but stimulate a chronic inflammatory response. The tissues, bone, and teeth are then impacted by this disease progression, causing pockets of bacteria to get larger, soft tissues to shrink, bone destroyed, and teeth loose or lost. The later stages of periodontitis can be extremely devastating to the smile and require the assistance of a dental professional to address. Patients who lose teeth may need restorations such as dentures or dental bridges to restore the function and appearance of their smile after the damage has occurred.
What increases one’s chance of developing gum disease?
Many factors contribute to a patient’s unique risk of developing conditions such as gingivitis or periodontitis. They may include:
- Systemic diseases
- Increased/prolonged stress
- Poor nutrition
- Hormonal fluctuations
- Smoking habits
- Genetic predisposition
- HIV infection
- The use of certain medications
How can I prevent gum disease from developing?
The best way to keep gum disease from developing is to take great care in giving a smile necessary attention. Patients can reduce their risk of gum disease by:
- Brushing the teeth after every meal
- Flossing after every meal
- Using mouthwash to reduce plaque
- Avoiding contributing factors (as listed above)
- Visiting a dentist every six months
- Attend routine dental cleanings
- Follow instructions for caring for the smile
- Scheduling an appointment when changes occur
Once gum disease develops, routine monitoring is necessary from a dental professional to ensure the condition is under control and treated as needed. Certain services are available for the treatment of gum disease, including thorough cleanings and services such as scaling and root planing. Scaling and root planing remove plaque and bacteria from all surfaces of the teeth, including the roots. This can be a relatively invasive procedure but is often necessary to avoid further damage to the teeth, gums, and bone of the jaw. Patients who have other damage to the smile, including bone loss, will need to speak to a professional after the condition has been controlled about restorative solutions such as bone grafting. This is the rebuilding of the jawbone to support the surrounding teeth and restorations, including dental implants. By catching the condition in its earliest stages, patients have a better chance of maintaining the health of their smile as well as the teeth, gums, and bone.
Are you interested in learning more about gum disease?
Preventive dentistry is critical for maintaining a healthy and beautiful smile. If you are interested in learning more about conditions that can be prevented within the smile, now is the time to work with a dentist in the community of Kirkland, WA. Dr. Ann Kelley of Kingsgate Dental is here to assist. Call her practice at (425) 385-0080 to speak to the front office team and book a consultation visit at 12308 NE 144th Street.