Gum disease should properly be referred to as periodontal disease. Early signs of periodontal disease are first noticed in the gingival or “gum” tissues. Five symptoms of periodontal disease that show up in gum tissues are: redness, tendency to bleed easily, tenderness, sponginess, and very slight swelling. Any one of these symptoms or all may be present at one time.
Periodontal disease is the number one reason for tooth loss in the adult population. If the disease is allowed to progress, it may lead to recession of the gingival tissue, destruction of the underlying supporting bone, loosening of the teeth, and eventually tooth loss. Periodontal disease is caused by allowing excessive bacteria to remain on teeth and surrounding gum tissues. Collection of bacteria, food debris, and saliva are commonly referred to as plaque. If plaque is allowed to remain for too long, the minerals from the saliva in the mouth will cause it to calcify and form what is termed calculus or tartar. Thus presence of plaque and calculus can lead to periodontal disease.
Scaling and root planing may be commonly referred to as “deep cleaning.” At the dentist, scaling allow for effective plaque and calculus removal from the crown and root surfaces. Scaling removes part of diseased tissue that lies next to the tooth. If bacteria build-up underneath the gumline is allowed to increase, pockets may form under the gum.
The best way to avoid gum problems or periodontal disease is home care. A good home care program of proper brushing and flossing combined with other methods prescribed by your dentist is the greatest preventative tools we have at our disposal. Regular dental cleaning at the dentist is recommended because everyone forms calculus over period of time.