You might be surprised to learn that tooth decay isn’t the most serious dental health problem. Gum disease sends far more patients to the oral surgeon for teeth extractions and oral pathology exams. This destructive and self-aggravating condition has several stages and variations, all of which pose serious risks. This guide describes the signs and symptoms associated with each type of gum disease.
Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease. It can be addressed at home by practicing more careful oral hygiene. The condition is characterized by red, swollen, tender gums that bleed easily. Gingivitis affects a large portion of the population, including both adults and children. While the condition doesn’t require care from an oral surgeon, it should be addressed immediately to prevent it from reaching a more advanced stage.
Once gum disease has become established in your mouth, it becomes a chronic problem that cannot be treated at home. Bacteria and tartar irritate the gumline until the tissue pulls away from the teeth, creating periodontal pockets against the tooth root. These gaps harbor more bacteria that works its way deeper into the gums, attacking the vulnerable tooth root. At this point, the germs are resistant to most at-home disinfecting treatments.
This stage of gum disease requires deep cleaning to remove the tartar buildup below the gumline and often calls for pocket reduction surgery to prevent future infections. If left untreated, gum disease of this type will worsen until it affects the jawbone and causes tooth loss. Seek treatment if you notice your gums pulling away from the teeth, pus along the gumline, or persistent bad breath in addition to increased gingivitis symptoms.
This gum disease variant is most common in individuals who have other factors compromising their oral health. These factors can include tobacco use, malnutrition, or compromised immune systems. When these factors combine with a periodontal infection, the result is painful ulcers and the permanent destruction of tissues in the mouth.
The best cure for gum disease is prevention. The earlier you address an infection, the less chance it will have to progress. No matter what stage of gum disease you're experiencing, treatment is available. The team at Oral Surgery Associates of Alaska in Anchorage provides cutting-edge services that preserve teeth and protect smiles. Call (907) 561-1430 to discuss your options, or go online to request an appointment with an oral surgeon.