Gum disease — also called periodontal disease — is a chronic infection of the soft tissue around your teeth. It’s the leading cause of tooth loss among adults, and its effects on your health go far beyond the mouth. Bacteria from the mouth spread through the body and are definitely linked to cardiovascular problems, diabetes, and pregnancy complications. Gum disease may also be linked to cancer and other serious health problems as well.
Although gum disease is common, it’s also treatable and preventable. To learn more about gum disease treatment in River Edge, NJ, please call
Symptoms of Gum Disease
Most adults in the US have some degree of gum disease. Some of the more common symptoms include:
- Red, swollen gums
- Tender gums
- Bleeding gums
- Persistent bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Teeth that seem to get longer
People with gum disease also sometimes notice that they are more susceptible to infections elsewhere in the body, experiencing frequent acne breakouts or getting every sickness that is “going around.” This is an anecdotal connection, and not well established.
Gum Disease Treatment Options
The proper approach to treating gum disease depends on the stage of the infection.
For minor infections, treatment might be as simple as a change in your oral hygiene. This can tilt the balance in favor of your body’s natural defense mechanisms, allowing it to repel and heal the infection. We might prescribe antibiotics to help your body combat the infection.
For more serious infections, we use laser gum treatment. In this technique, a laser is used to clean out the pockets where bacteria have been growing. The laser kills bacteria and helps your tissue heal. It’s relatively painless and very effective, though multiple treatment sessions are necessary to get the optimal effect. Healing is relatively quick and painless.
Some practices might still use a root scaling and planing, in which your gums are cut away from your teeth so that the roots can have all the bacteria scraped away, then the root is smoothed. This can also be effective, but it’s very painful and it can take a long time to heal.
We can also help manage gum infections with Perio Protect. Perio Protect is an at-home gum treatment that helps you restore and maintain your periodontal health. It utilizes custom trays similar to teeth whitening trays to apply antibacterial medications directly to your gums, right where they're needed.
For very serious infections, gum disease surgery may be recommended.
How Gum Disease Leads to Tooth Loss
Gum disease occurs when bacteria infect the small spaces between your teeth and gums. Colonies of bacteria living here secrete acids and other toxic chemicals that can irritate and damage your gums, separating them from your teeth and making more space for more bacteria to live.
As bacteria penetrate deeper, they reach your jaw bone, and they begin destroying the bone and ligaments that secure your teeth. This is when you may begin to notice receding gums and loose teeth. To make matters worse, the body often responds to this serious infection with a response that destroys both bacteria and your own tissue, speeding the loss of bone.
When there’s not enough bone to hold your teeth in place, they will fall out.
The Impact of Gum Disease on the Body
As a chronic infection, gum disease works as a jumping-off point for infections elsewhere in the body. Infections can spread to your heart, your lungs, and your blood vessels. It’s associated with high risk of heart failure, stroke, and erectile dysfunction. It has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight. The chronic inflammation associated with gum disease can interfere with your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, contributing to diabetes. Treating gum disease can reduce your medical expenses related to these conditions, and reduce your risk of hospitalization for them.
Some gum disease bacteria have also been shown to hamper the body’s ability to fight cancer, though we’re not sure how much gum disease might impact cancer risk.