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Gum Disease: Types, Signs and Causes

Gum disease is the most common cause of tooth loss in adults today. This is why it is important to understand the types, symptoms and causes of this common dental condition. Here’s an insight into the types, possible indicators and causes of gum disease.

3 Main Types of Gum Disease

Gingivitis

Gingivitis is typically referred to as early-stage gum disease that can cause the gums to become red and swollen. In fact, the gums become so sensitive that they bleed from tooth brushing. Gingivitis is the most common form of gum disease and can be treated if detected early. By following a strict oral hygiene routine like regular tooth brushing and flossing, the condition can be prevented from getting worse.

Periodontitis

If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, which can be referred to as a more severe form of gum disease that affects both the gums and bones that hold the teeth in place. If not treated on time, the teeth become loose and start falling off.

Acute Necrotizing Ulcerative Gingivitis

This is the most critical stage of gum disease and is quite rare. Typically, malnourished individuals with weakened immune systems suffer from the condition. The condition involves formation of ulcers in the gums, following bacterial infection. As these ulcers are very painful, the patients have eating and drinking difficulties.

 

Signs of the Condition

Unfortunately, many patients aren’t even aware that they have gum disease because the condition is rarely painful, especially during the early stages. However, there are signs indicating the development of the condition.

Tooth bleeding is the first symptom of this infectious disease, which typically occurs during tooth brushing. The patient may also notice inflammation, redness as well as unpleasant breath. In some cases, an odd metallic taste can be sensed in the mouth. Tooth sensitivity and appearance of reddish-blue patches at gum corners are other possible indicators of gum disease.

Causes of the Condition

The most common cause of gum disease is accumulation of plaque. If teeth aren’t properly brushed or cleaned well, there is a greater risk of developing gum disease because poor oral hygiene practices lead to plaque build-up.

Plaque Build-up

The sticky layer forming on the teeth as a result of bacterial growth on tooth surface is referred to as “plaque”. If an individual allows plaque to stay on the teeth for prolonged period, it can turn hard and take the form of tartar, which tends to adhere to the teeth even more strongly. Regular tooth brushing or flossing can’t eliminate tartar and dental intervention (dental scaling) is usually required for treating the problem. As the build-up of plaque and tartar begins, bacteria start inflaming the gums, which leads to the development of gingivitis.

Additional Causes

Apart from plaque build-up, other factors like smoking can also lead to gum disease, which tend to hinder blood flow to the gums while making the healing period longer. Diabetics are also at a greater risk of developing gum disease and so are pregnant women.

 

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Dr. Bruno Silva
Founder and Principal Dentist, Brighton Implant Clinic.