It’s estimated that more than 75% of all adults past the age of 35 have some type of gum disease — and many of these cases go undiagnosed until the symptoms can no longer be ignored. Gum disease is more than just an irritating and potentially painful condition — it can also have a negative impact on your quality of life as well as affect how long you’ll live. It is often a contributing factor to Type II diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, respiratory illnesses, and cardiovascular issues, Research suggests that gum disease may also contribute to Alzheimer’s disease.
There are two major types of gum disease:
Gingivitis is the less serious of the two main types of gum disease — however, it’s often a precursor to the more serious kind, which is why having regular periodontal screenings is essential to maintaining optimal gum health. The usual signs of the onset of gingivitis include tenderness of the gums and bleeding, especially when brushing or flossing the teeth. Your gums may also be slightly swollen due to superficial inflammation of gum tissue. If gingivitis is treated as soon as possible after it is diagnosed, the chances of it not progressing to the more serious gum disease known as periodontitis, are increased.
Your dentist may recommend the use of antibacterial mouthwash and toothpaste on a regular basis as well as meticulous attention to oral hygiene combined with regular teeth cleanings to keep gingivitis from developing into periodontal disease.
Periodontitis isn’t limited to the tissues of the gums — it also damages the surrounding bone tissue that helps hold the teeth in place. Once the disease progresses to this extent, tooth loss is often the result. Once the teeth begin to come loose as the result of periodontitis, nothing can be done to prevent tooth loss. This is also the type of gum disease that begins to affect other parts of the body, such as the lungs and heart.
However, treatments do exist for periodontitis if the condition is caught early enough. For instance, your dentist may recommend a procedure called planing and scaling, which is an in-office procedure where your dentist will numb your gum tissues and scrape plaque and tartar buildups from both above and below your gum line. Laser treatments may also be available for slowing the progression of periodontitis.
What to Expect From a Gum Disease Screening
Screening for gum disease involves a routine examination of gum tissues to look for symptoms such as redness, puffiness, and tenderness as well as check to see if your gums have begun to form pockets or started to recede. If it’s suspected that you have gum disease that has progressed beyond gingivitis to periodontitis, your dentist may also decide to do X-rays for the purpose of determining whether the underlying bone structure that supports your teeth has been damaged.
The most important thing to remember about gum disease is that early screening is essential in limiting its adverse effects. Please don’t hesitate to contact our office to set up an appointment for a thorough tum disease screening, particularly if you’ve begun to experience initial symptoms such as tenderness and/or bleeding.