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By Dr. Rob Gausmann, DDS – Printed November 26, 2012

Q.  What is Gum Disease and is there anything I can do to prevent it?

A.  This is an excellent question – understanding its answer is essential for dental health. Both healthy gum tissue and bone help create the stable foundation needed for strong teeth. A familiar parallel for understanding the importance of gum tissue is in building a house. The foundation of a house must be “healthy” and strong otherwise the house would fail. This example can be compared to a dental “building”. Without healthy gums and bone, the teeth easily become loose and may need to be extracted.

When considering your “dental foundation”, a primary threat to your gum tissue is Gum Disease. Gum Disease is progressive and has the potential for immediate or long-term negative effects. Here are some symptoms as they occur:

Gingivitis – Inflammation of the gum tissues. This could be due to a build-up of food debris around the teeth. If this debris is not removed, further accumulation will occur.

“Deep Pockets” – Gum tissue attaches to bone and grows up around the white part of the tooth (crown). Where the gum meets the tooth a “pocket” is created – just like a jean pocket. As debris builds-up, it collects in those pockets and becomes very difficult to clean. This debris attracts bacteria resulting in extreme inflammation and often causes gums to bleed.

Bleeding Gums – Your body’s natural response is to fight off this infection caused by excessive untreated debris. It does this by bringing healing components to the area through the blood vessels. This is why gum disease is often associated with bleeding gums. Unfortunately, the body is unable to heal the area because the source of infection has not been removed (the food debris buildup).

Bone Loss/Periodontal Disease – Untreated infection will take over and lead to a process that “eats away” the bone around the teeth. The body, at best, will grow only a minimal amount of this bone back. At this point the condition is called Periodontal Disease. As bone is lost, the teeth become loose. Affected teeth may need to be removed as a result of untreated infection or because they move too much. 

Prevention of Gum Disease is important and predictable with appropriate dental care. Routine brushing will help to remove any food debris around the gum tissue and teeth. Toothbrush bristles however, are unable to reach into the pockets around the teeth. This is why flossing is important. Proper flossing techniques will gently slip between the tooth and gum tissue and remove debris from the pockets. Finally, routine dental visits for cleaning will help to restore hard to reach areas before they threaten your gum health.

If gum disease is already present, proper diagnosis and treatment is needed. When heavy deposits are located in teeth pockets, special instruments may be needed to remove the build-up. This can be completed by a dental professional and is called, “deep cleaning”. Although some bone loss may be permanent, it is possible to prevent further bone damage. After deep cleaning, the above preventative actions will help to restore and maintain the tissues and keep them healthy. 

Keeping the foundational gum and bone tissues healthy is key to you maintaining strong teeth and a happy smile.

Dr. Rob Gausmann, DDS – Gausmann Family Dental

© Gausmann Family Dental 2016