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  • Dr. Femi Folayan

Gum Disease and Treatment

Gum disease is also know as periodontitis, an infection of the tissues that hold teeth in place, typically caused by poor brushing and flossing habits that allow plaque—a sticky film of bacteria—to build up on the teeth and harden over time. Gum disease typically progresses through different stages, early to advanced, in the advanced stage, periodontal disease can lead to sore, bleeding gums; painful chewing problems; and even tooth loss.

We all have bacteria in out mouths, part of our normal oral flora. These bacteria, along with mucus and other particles, constantly form a sticky, colorless “plaque” on teeth. Brushing and flossing help get rid of this plaque and debris. Plaque that is not removed can harden over time and form “tartar” that brushing alone can't clean. Only a professional cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist can remove tartar once it forms.

There are a number of risk factors for gum disease, smoking being the most significant. Other risk factors include diabetes; hormonal changes in girls and women; medications that lessen the flow of saliva; certain illnesses, such as AIDS; and genetic susceptibility.

Some of the warning clues 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

If you notice any of the above symptoms please speak with your dental professional who will perform a comprehensive periodontal evaluation, including taking several x-rays to see whether there is any bone loss. Your healthcare provider may also consider referring you to a periodontist when your case is severe.

The main goal of treatment is to control the infection. 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. The dentist may also suggest changing certain behaviors, such as quitting smoking, as a way to improve your treatment results.

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