Properly caring for your gums is essential for having strong teeth. Did you know that gum disease is the number one cause of tooth loss in adults? Northborough, MA dentist Dr. Robert Gauthier and his staff keep this fact in mind with every visit and are committed to making sure that your gums stay as healthy as possible!
In order to avoid periodontal (gum) problems, it is important to know a little bit about gum disease and its presentations. Early stage gum disease is called gingivitis and is fairly common, especially in adolescents. Patients with gingivitis normally have red, swollen gums that are painful to brush and floss and often bleed during dental visits. The inflammation in gingivitis is caused by plaque and calculus that build up under the gums. Thankfully, early stage gum disease is reversible and can be treated through routine dental visits and diligent brushing and flossing at home. However, once gingivitis progresses into late-stage periodontitis, the effects are no longer reversible.
Late-stage gum disease, or periodontitis, occurs when plaque bacteria progress deep into the gums and cause resorption of bone in your jaws. This bone resorption, if left untreated, can cause loss of tooth attachment and thus, tooth loss. Periodontitis can occur in addition to red, swollen gums or can occur with seemingly healthy gums. Late-stage gum disease with attachment loss also occurs without pain; for this reason, it is important to follow up with your dentist regularly and be screened for periodontitis.
Periodontal screening is a simple procedure in which a dentist or hygienist uses a probing instrument to measure the distance between the bone of your jaw and your gums. A measurement of 3 mm or less is considered healthy, whereas a measurement greater than 4mm signifies bone loss and may require more rigorous treatment with a gum specialist, also known as a periodontist.
Tooth loss due to gum disease is a scary thought, but luckily, it can be completely avoided through proper dental hygiene. If you have any questions about periodontal disease, don’t hesitate to ask Dr. Gauthier during your next visit!
ADA video about periodontal screening: