Gum Diseases

Your teeth are the strongest structures in your body covered and protected by enamel, which is the hardest structure in the human body stronger than your bones.Your teeth are firmly anchored to your jaw bones by gum tissue. Gums are the soft, pink structures that guard and cover the jaw bone and part of the tooth structure. Periodontitis is an infection of gum tissues that hold your teeth in place. Swollen and erythematous gums are a result of periodontal disease that makes your teeth loose. Healthy gums adhere to the tooth structure firmly whereas inflamed gums as in (gingivitis) do not hold on to your teeth due to bacterial infection. Gum treatment if not treated early will result in the loss of supporting bone and the teeth.

What are the supporting structures of the tooth?

Periodontium accommodates investing and supporting tissues of the tooth like gingiva(gums), periodontal fibres and supporting bone. Gingiva or gums serve the main function of which is protecting the underlying tissues and attachment apparatus to the tooth. These are specifically structured to function against mechanical and microbial damage. They act as a barrier to the penetration by microbes and noxious agents into deeper tissues.

How gum diseases affect the tooth?

Gum diseases include gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is the inflammation of gums. Periodontitis is a severe form of gingivitis where infection of gums extends down the supporting structures.Some people have severe gingivitis for many years without developing periodontitis. Others may develop periodontitis at early ages, without first having significant gingivitis.

Gingivitis:

Plaque is the essential driver of gingivitis.It starts with bacterial development in your mouth. Microbes in plaque cause structural and functional changes in gingiva. The teeth are still immovably planted in their attachments at this stage.  No irreversible bone or other tissue harm has happened during this period. At this point when gum disease is left untreated, it can progress to periodontitis. Gingivitis typically goes before periodontitis. Notwithstanding, it is imperative to realize that not all gum diseases advances to periodontitis.

Periodontitis:

Periodontitis happens when inflammation extends from gums to the supporting structures of the tooth. Periodontitis is one of the main causes of tooth loss. It can affect people of any age including young children.In an individual with periodontitis, the internal layer of the gum and bone draw away from the teeth and structure pockets. These pockets gather flotsam and jetsam and can get contaminated. The body’s resistant framework battles the microscopic organisms as the plaque spreads and develops underneath the gum line. Infection weakens the attachments, destroys the bone that holds the teeth in place and eventually loosens the teeth.

What causes gum disease?

Plaque is the primary cause of gum diseases. However, there are other causes which are also not uncommon.

  • Plaque: The most common culprit of gum diseases is plaque. Plaque is the layer of microbes, saliva and food around the tooth.Plaque buildup can be controlled by daily brushing and flossing. Plaque gets hardened over time and forms tartar. Tartar is not possible to remove by only brushing. Professional cleaning is required to eliminate hardened plaque. These microbes present in the plaque seep into the spaces around the tooth and cause infection of gums.
  • Smoking interferes with the normal function of gum tissue cells, making your teeth more vulnerable to infections like gum disease. Prognosis of gum treatment is also poor if smoking is continued during and after the treatment.
  • Hormonal changes during pregnancy, pubescence which make gums more susceptible to gum diseases.
  • Certain diseases like HIV, diabetes, malignant conditions etc. are more prone to develop gum diseases as well.
  • Genetic or hereditary where gum illness runs in family.
  • Certain medications which decrease salivary flow and tend to make your mouth more liable to gum diseases.

What are the signs of gum disease?

Symptoms of gum disease may go unnoticed until an advanced stage of the disease.However, alarming signs of gum disease include the following:

  • Red, swollen or tender gums
  • Bleeding from gums while brushing, flossing, or eating hard food
  • Gums that are receding or pulling away from the teeth, causing the teeth to look longer than before
  • Loose teeth
  • Pus around the gums
  • constant bad breath
  • changes in bite

Treatment of gum disease:

Failing to spot the signs of gum disease can have serious consequences like tooth loss. If diagnosed early, treatment options are less invasive. Gingivitis can usually be reversed by regular professional teeth cleaning followed by a regimen of daily brushing and flossing and regular in office cleaning. If gingivitis is not treated, it can progress to periodontitis which may require surgical intervention like flap surgery, bone graft etc.