The Harmful Progression of Gum Disease


Gum disease is an infection of the gums that, if left untreated, can range from mild-to-severe. If action isn’t taken, gum disease can lead to the loss of teeth. Read on to learn more about gum disease and the damaging effects it can have on your smile if left untreated. 

What is Gum Disease? 

Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is an infection of the tissues that hold your teeth in place. For most patients, it’s caused by poor dental habits that allow plaque to build up on your teeth and harden. In severe cases, gum disease can cause sore, bleeding gums, painful chewing problems, and even tooth loss. 

What Causes Gum Disease? 

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research explains that our mouths are full of bacteria. These bacteria, along with mucus and other particles, constantly form a sticky, colorless plaque on the teeth. Brushing and flossing properly each day can remove plaque, however, if not removed, tartar can form on the teeth. Tartar can only be removed from the teeth by a dentist or dental hygienist. 

In addition to poor oral hygiene, other lifestyle factors can contribute to periodontal disease. For example, smoking. Those who smoke are more likely to have gum disease, and their cases can be more difficult to treat. Other risk factors include:

  • Diabetes 
  • Hormonal changes in girls and women
  • Diabetes
  • Medications that reduce production of saliva 
  • Certain illnesses, like AIDS
  • Genetic susceptibility 

The Progression

The development of periodontal disease begins with plaque, which is a sticky film that is made primarily up of bacteria. If you don’t clean the plaque off your teeth properly, this is how gum disease can progress and become periodontitis, the most severe form of gum disease:

  • Plaque forms on your teeth when starches and sugars in food interact with bacteria normally found in the indoor mouth. 
  • Then, plaque can harden under your gum line into tartar if it stays on your teeth. Tartar is more difficult to remove and it’s filled with bacteria. The longer plaque and tartar are stuck on your teeth, the more difficult they are to remove and the more damage they can do. 
  • Plaque can then cause gingivitis, the mildest form of gum disease. This results in irritation and inflammation of the part of your gum tissue and the base of your teeth. This stage of gum disease can be reversed. 
  • When you don’t get gingivitis treated, periodontitis can form. This can lead to pockets developing between your gums and teeth that fill with plaque, tartar, and bacteria. If not treated, these deep infections can cause a loss of tissue and bone. Ultimately, you could lose one or more teeth. 

Symptoms of Gum Disease 

When gums are healthy, they fit snugly around your teeth and are pale pink in color and firm to the touch. When they are suffering from infection, the symptoms can include:

  • Swollen or puffy gums
  • Bright red or purplish gums
  • Gums that feel tender when touched and bleed easily
  • Pink-tinged toothbrush after brushing 
  • Spitting out blood when brushing or flossing your teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Pus between the teeth and gums
  • Loose teeth or loss of teeth
  • Painful chewing
  • New spaces developing between your teeth
  • Gums that recede from your teeth and make your teeth look longer than normal
  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite 

Gum Disease Treatment

At Niles Family Dentistry, we offer a couple of different treatments to help with gum disease. We offer: 

Deep cleaning 

Scaling and root planing is a way that we can deep clean your teeth to create a healthy tissue environment in which tissues can re-adapt to normal tooth surfaces. Gum disease is caused due to a buildup of calculus, plaque, and stain on the crowns and roots surfaces of teeth. It typically begins as a localized infection and gingival inflammation, however, when left untreated it can progress to serious disease that results in severe damage to the gums and bones that support your teeth. In these severe cases, teeth can be lost, gingival tissue can detach from the teeth, and periodontal pockets form. 

Periodontal maintenance

Another treatment for gum disease is periodontal maintenance. This includes the procedures and protocols employed to clean and maintain the teeth and gums following a diagnosis and stabilization treatment of periodontal disease. After a certain point, gum disease can not be cured but rather managed. While a patient may think these treatments for gum disease seem like a regular cleaning, treatment can vary from person to person due to how we have to closely evaluate and examine the mouth more frequently. 

Get Healthy Gums with Niles Family Dentistry

If you believe you are showing signs or mild-to-severe gum disease, call our team at Niles Family Dentistry at (720)-744-0001. We have treated it all, and we’re here for you no matter the state of your gums. Make an appointment with us today! 

Ashley Niles

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