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The Signs and Causes of Gum Disease

June 21, 2012 @ 01:48 PM -- by

Manhattan Gum Disease TreatmentGum disease is one of the most prevalent oral health problems facing Americans today. If left untreated, gum disease can cause tooth loss and bone damage. Gum disease has multiple causes and multiple treatments. Treatment depends on the severity of the gum disease. Mild gum disease may only require a thorough cleaning, whereas severe disease may necessitate surgery. To determine your treatment needs, schedule an appointment with Dr. Maurice Edwards, a leading Manhattan oral surgeon. You may be wondering if you have gum disease, and if so, what causes it. The following is an overview designed to inform you of the signs and causes of gum disease, along with some steps you can take to improve your oral health.

What Is Gum Disease?

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is essentially an infection of the gums that can extend to the bone surrounding the teeth. There are two stages of gum disease. When the condition first develops, it is called gingivitis; once the condition progresses, it is called periodontitis.

  • Gingivitis: Gingivitis is the more mild of the two types of gum disease. Gingivitis only affects the gum tissue surrounding the teeth. 
  • Periodontitis: Periodontitis is more severe than gingivitis because it affects not only the gum tissue surrounding the teeth, but also the bone and tissue below the gum line. 

What Are the Causes of Gum Disease?

Gum disease has numerous causes, the main cause being the proliferation of plaque. Plaque results from a combination of food remnants, your own saliva, bacteria, and toxins from the bacteria. These toxins are harmful to the gum tissue and cause irritation and tissue breakdown. Here are some other causes of gum disease:

  • Poor brushing and flossing habits.
  • Smoking and chewing tobacco
  • Diet lacking nutrients
  • High stress
  • Family history
  • Illnesses affecting the immune system, including AIDS and certain cancers
  • Uncontrolled diabetes

What Are the Signs of Gum Disease?

Gum disease has different signs in each stage. As the disease progresses symptoms become worse. These are the signs of the early stages of gum disease, gingivitis:

  • Gums with gingivitis will bleed during brushing and flossing.
  • The gums may also be red instead of the normal pink
  • The gums are tender and even swollen. 

The symptoms of chronic gum disease, periodontitis, are much more severe as the infection spreads to the bone. These are the signs of periodontitis:

  • Persistent bad breath.
  • The gums begin to pull away from the teeth.
  • There may be pus coming from the gums.
  • Teeth may become loose, which can lead to tooth loss.

What Are the Treatments for Gum Disease?

The most important thing in treating and preventing gum disease is practicing proper oral hygiene. Thorough brushing at least twice a day, flossing once a day, and regular dentist visits are vital to preventing the development of gum disease. For severe gum disease, your dentist can perform deep cleaning to remove plaque buildup below the gum line. This is called root planing and scaling. Surgeries such as a gingivectomy or flap surgery may be needed in severe cases. If your gum disease has gotten to the point of tooth loss, we offer tooth replacement options. For our patients in New York, dental implants are an option that can be used once your gum disease is under control. Dr. Maurice Edwards offers the most advanced dental practices for our patients.

Don't ignore the signs of gum disease. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Maurice Edwards today.

Dr. Maurice Edwards, D.M.D.

Board Certified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon

41 East 57th Street, Suite 1204
New York, New York 10022
p: 212 888 8624 f: 212 838 5533