Most adults experience some degree of gum disease during their lifetime, but it does not necessarily lead to tooth loss. Understanding how to identify and treat the stages of this common ailment can prevent it from spreading and reduce its impact.Gum disease is an infection of the gum tissue surrounding the teeth. It starts with…
How Gum Disease Can Cause Damage to Your Soft Tissue and Bone
When it comes to conditions that are damaging to the mouth, periodontal or gum disease is one of the most devastating. This infectious condition worsens over time, so a patient may not realize how serious it has become until damage to the soft tissues or jaw bone has already occurred. Periodontal disease will not go away or improve without treatment, so it is important that a patient gets the help of a dentist as soon as symptoms become obvious.
What are the symptoms of gum disease?
Some of the signs that something is going wrong can be mistaken for other problems. Two or more symptoms combined, however, should alert a person that a visit to the dentist is a priority. Some things to watch for include the following:
- Gums that bleed when brushing, flossing or eating crunchy foods
- Gums that appear swollen, red or purple
- Loose, gapping or receding gums
- Bad breath or pus between teeth or along the gums
- Pain when chewing or brushing teeth
What kind of damage does this condition cause?
The gums and soft tissues, bones and teeth are all at risk from this disease. Letting gum disease go unchecked can lead to increasingly worse damage.
A serious infection sets into the gums, making them extremely sensitive and causing pain and discomfort. This can be evident when trying to eat, brush or floss, as anything rubbing against the gums creates pain and can also cause bleeding. This can be severe enough to discourage caring for the teeth, which creates a vicious cycle and the condition worsens.
Jawbones and tissues
As the infection of periodontal disease sets in, it begins to break down the tissues between the gums and the jawbone. This causes the gums to collapse and loosen around the teeth. The bones lose nourishment and begin to shrink, which may spread to other areas in the mouth. With this shrinkage, tooth loss is a common problem.
As the jawbone shrinks, the tissues deteriorate and the gums begin to recede, the deep roots of the teeth begin to be exposed. Bacteria gains access below the gum line and decay sets in. This can cause the roots of the teeth to become compromised, leading to possible abscesses. Teeth may loosen and even fall out as the jaws and tissues recede.
How is periodontal disease treated?
Keeping the teeth clean and healthy is the first line of defense. Failing that, there are three main procedures that can help. In a soft tissue graft, healthy soft tissues from the roof of the mouth are grafted onto the gums. In a flap procedure, a flap of gum tissue is eased away from the tooth down to the root, tartar is carefully cleaned away and tooth surfaces are smoothed to prevent bacteria from building up again. Bone grafts can be performed to replace deteriorated jaw bone.
Every symptom that accompanies gum disease is concerning, so if they persist or new ones occur, a patient should seek attention from a dentist as soon as possible. Periodontal disease, if addressed fully, can be resolved for improved oral health and comfort.
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