Gum Disease (Gingivitis and Periodontitis)
Your gums exist to protect the roots of your teeth from harmful bacteria. Healthy gums and bone anchor your teeth firmly in place to support chewing and provide a youthful, vibrant appearance. If your teeth and gums are not kept healthy, chronic bacterial infections called gingivitis and periodontitis (gum disease) can develop. By age 45, more than 50% of people have some form of gum disease. If left untreated, gum disease progressively deteriorates the gums and bone supporting your teeth, possibly leading to tooth loss.
Although gum disease affects more than half of the adult population, those affected often do not know they have the disease because it is usually a painless process. This means that you may have gum disease and not even know it! So, how do you know if you have gum disease? Early gum disease is called Gingivitis. It begins when bacteria in the saliva forms plaque around the teeth which causes the gums to become inflamed. Plaque and its toxic by-products irritate the gums, making them red, tender, and more apt to bleed.
In many people, gingivitis may progress to periodontitis over time. When periodontitis occurs, the gums lose their attachment to the teeth allowing bacteria to further penetrate the tissue. As the body attempts to get rid of these bacteria and their toxic by-products, it begins to destroy bone. This bone loss may cause the gums to recede giving the appearance of long, unsightly teeth. In advanced cases, bone loss may lead to loosening of the teeth and eventually, tooth loss.
How can you tell if you have periodontal disease? Symptoms include:
- Bleeding gums – during brushing or flossing
- Swollen, sore, or very red gums
- Chronic bad breath or bad taste in your mouth
- Loose or shifting teeth
- The appearance of pus from depressed gums
Using a small instrument to gently measure the gums around the teeth, Dr. Holtzclaw can more accurately diagnose the presence and progression of any periodontal disease. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Holtzclaw for an evaluation, please call 512-453-1600.
Lone Star Periodontics & Dental Implants. Dan Holtzclaw, DDS, MS. Board certified periodontist and dental implant surgeon. 711 W. 38th Street, Suite G5. Austin, TX 78705. 512-453-1600