By some estimates, roughly half of the adults in the United States have some level of gum disease – mild, moderate, or severe. That’s a staggering statistic, because gum disease can not only lead to lost teeth, but also to a number of potentially serious health conditions. At A Downtown Dental Group in Honolulu, HI, Dr. Wilfred Miyasaki offers gentle and effective non-surgical gum disease treatment.
What Causes Gum Disease?
In a word, bacteria. All of us have colonies of bacteria that live in our mouths. There’s even a name for those colonies – the oral microbiome. Those bacteria are normal and natural, so don’t start reaching for the antiseptic mouthwash just yet.
Some of those bacteria combine with our saliva to create a thin, sticky film called dental plaque. Plaque forms on the gum line around the teeth, keeping the bacteria in close contact with both teeth and gums. The bacteria get busy eating the sugars in our foods and beverages, and they secrete acids. Those acids irritate the gums and begin to attack the enamel that covers our teeth.
The gums react to the acids by becoming inflamed. They change from a firm, healthy pink to a puffy, often tender, red or even purple color. There are other signs that things are going wrong in the mouth due to gum disease:
- Your gums bleed easily, especially when you brush or floss.
- Your breath isn’t as fresh as it used to be, no matter what you do.
- Your teeth may become sensitive to heat or cold.
Heading Off Problems
This is first stage of gum disease, known as gingivitis. Don’t ignore these early warning signs that something’s not right with your gums. In its early stage, gum disease can almost always be treated effectively by a thorough, professional dental cleaning. Your dental hygienist (who, let’s face it, can see the inside of your mouth way better than you can) will remove every trace of plaque. That stops the erosion of your tooth enamel and the irritation of your gums.
In fact, gum disease can be prevented in most people by regular, thorough brushing and flossing, plus regular cleanings and dental examinations.
But if plaque is left undisturbed long enough, things start to get really serious.
The usual progression of gum disease happens because plaque hardens into dental calculus, or tartar. Tartar is even harder than your tooth enamel, so there’s no possible way to remove it by brushing and flossing.
When tartar forms, the bacteria go into overdrive, ramping up their output of acids. The gums react to this increased irritation, pulling away from the teeth and allowing bacteria easy access below the gumline. Pockets of infection can form and when that happens, you’ll likely experience a foul taste in your mouth and chronic, horrible breath.
Bacteria below the gum line attack the ligaments that help stabilize teeth. Lost teeth and how your teeth come together – your bite – can be affected. As tooth roots are attacked, one or more may actually fall out. The underlying bone can also be attacked leading to bone loss.
Losing a tooth is a big deal. It can change the way you chew and the foods you eat. A missing tooth can lead you to chew more on the other side, causing premature wear to your tooth enamel and even result in headaches from muscle imbalances. The neighboring teeth begin to shift out of position, further affecting your bite. And it can cost thousands of dollars to have that missing tooth replaced by a dental bridge or a dental implant and restoration.
Health Effects Of Gum Disease
A broad and ongoing research effort is showing that the bacteria that cause gum disease can also impact your overall health. Gum disease has been linked to:
- Heart disease
- Lung problems
- Poor diabetes control
- Inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis
- Various forms of cancer
And many more.
The research effort is ongoing, and it’s almost certain that many more health conditions will be linked to gum disease.
For the sake of your gums, your teeth, and your health, schedule a dental cleaning and examination with Dr. Wilfred Miyasaki at A Downtown Dental Group in Honolulu, HI by calling 808-797-3680.
At Your Appointment
It doesn’t matter how advanced your gum disease might be. At A DownTown Dental Group in Honolulu, HI, we offer treatment for every stage of gum disease. We have a periodontist on-site to help provide and coordinate your care. If specialized treatment is required, we’ll refer you for LANAP laser gum surgery by a qualified specialist.
Our patients choose us because we treat them like family. We’re committed to treating your problems and ending your pain. If your gum disease requires more significant treatment, we’ll refer you to a qualified specialist for LANAP laser gum surgery.