Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is an infection of the gum tissues supporting your teeth. It develops when plaque and tartar build up on your teeth. Over time, this harmful bacteria starts irritating and damaging your gum tissue, causing it to break down. Eventually, gum disease can damage the bone supporting your teeth. In these cases, your teeth may fall out or need to be removed.

It is important to take very good care of your teeth and gums, and visit Kansas City dentist Dr. Thomas Barton for your regularly scheduled teeth cleanings in order to prevent the development of gum disease. Periodontal disease can have devastating consequences on your overall general health, leading to serious conditions such as:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Preterm birth

Progression of Gum Disease

There are two stages of gum disease – gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease, and it is considerably milder than periodontitis. It only affects your gum tissue, frequently causing red, swollen gums that bleed easily when you brush and floss.

If you do not treat gingivitis in its early stages, it may develop into periodontitis, the more severe form of gum disease. Periodontitis goes beyond the gum tissue and damages the bones supporting your teeth. Your gums may recede from your teeth, creating deep pockets of bacteria. If you do not treat periodontitis, it may result in tooth and bone loss.

Symptoms of periodontitis include:

  • Gums that shrink away from your teeth
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Pus discharging from your gums
  • Loose teeth
  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Abscessed teeth

Treatment for Gum Disease

For mild cases of gum disease, you may be able to treat the condition by diligently brushing and flossing and coming for your regular teeth cleanings at Dr. Barton’s office. However, once your gum disease reaches the more serious stages and becomes periodontitis, Dr. Barton will need to employ some more aggressive treatment methods to manage the condition.

Dr. Barton may recommend scaling and root planning, a deep cleaning method that removes the buildup of plaque and tartar above and below the gum line. Antibiotics may also be necessary to treat infected gums. In very severe cases, surgery may be necessary.

Preventing Gum Disease

The best way to prevent gum disease is to brush and floss every day, and to visit Dr. Barton at least twice a year for your regularly scheduled teeth cleanings. Other lifestyle changes that may lower your risk of gum disease include:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Reducing stress
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Avoid grinding your teeth

Please contact Dr. Thomas Barton today to schedule your dental evaluation at our Kansas City, Missouri office.