As adults, we have probably been told at least once that we either have gingivitis or periodontal disease. Healthy gum tissues are pink, firm, and DO NOT bleed.
Gingivitis is an infection in your gum tissues. It can be localized to one area or effect your whole mouth. Signs and symptoms include bleeding gums with brushing or flossing, red, puffy, rounded gums, and sensitivity when brushing or flossing as well. Gingivitis is reversible. Therefore, with a preventative dental hygiene appointment or ‘cleaning’, and improved oral home-care your gums will heal.
Periodontal disease is when there is a loss of bone support around the teeth. Periodontal disease is a leading cause of tooth loss. If un-treated, gingivitis starts to spread down the tooth, getting closer to the bone. Our body never wants an infection in our bones, which could lead to a severe wide spread infection and sepsis. So to protect ourselves, our body’s immune system starts to ‘eat’ away at the bone to keep it a safe distance away from the approaching infection. There are 3 stages to this disease, slight bone loss, moderate bone loss, and severe bone loss. Severe bone loss is when more then half of the supporting bone around a tooth is lost. Once bone is lost, we can’t get it back.
Severe, Active Periodontal disease
The severity of periodontal disease can be measured by your dental hygienist. We use a special measuring probe to measure from where we can see the gums to where they attach to your tooth. Healthy numbers range from 1-3mm. As the numbers increase, so does the severity of your bone loss.
Unfortunately, periodontal disease cannot be reversed without surgical bone graft procedures. If treated properly, periodontal disease can be stopped and bone levels maintained with more frequent dental hygiene appointments and increased oral home-care.
See your dental hygienist regularly (2-4 times a year) to prevent active gingivitis and periodontal disease, and have them measure your gum health yearly.
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