Most people have heard of gingivitis. It is a progressive disease, which can be slow or fast, that leads to inflamed and red gums that eventually bleed when brushed. What you may not know is that by the time you notice you have gingivitis, you may already have a more serious progressive disorder: periodontitis.
What is Gingivitis and How Does it Become Periodontitis?
Gingivitis means “inflammation of the gums.” When we brush, floss, and see a dentist, the bacteria that leads to gum disease is cleared out, and your gums are able to remain healthy. But when you do not care for your teeth, or you struggle with risk factors like hormonal changes or diabetes, it can cause plaque/bacteria build up between teeth, causing the gums to become inflamed. This is what we refer to as “Gingivitis.”
Gingivitis is technically reversable. But it is also quick to progress further. Left untreated, or if not caught right away, it is very likely to lead to periodontitis, a type of periodontal disease.
Periodontitis occurs when the bacteria and swelling cause the inner layer of the gumline to separate from the rest of the tooth. This creates pockets in the gums, which in turn collect more bacteria and germs, leading to further damage. Left untreated, periodontal disease can cause pain, discomfort, and eventual tooth loss.
Although gingivitis is treatable, it is estimated that as many as 90% of the population already has periodontal disease. By the time you notice you have gingivitis and seek treatment, it may already have progressed to the next stage.
The Problem with Periodontal Disease:
Periodontal disease can be easily missed. It may be difficult to spot redness against the pink of the gums, or bone loss around the roots of the teeth because there is no pain or discomfort. The degeneration of the gums can also occur fast, quickly becoming a more serious issue.
That’s why it’s so important to come in for your regular dental checkups with Dr. Ross. Dentists can spot both gingivitis and periodontitis early, and then treat it to prevent any further degradation.
How is Periodontal Disease Treated?
The severity of periodontal disease can play a role in the healing process. But it starts by first cleaning your teeth. At our office, we’ll give you a thorough and complete cleaning that will eliminate plaque and reduce inflammation right away.
But you will also need to keep up with your teeth and gums at home. Brushing and flossing will be even more important to help keep bacteria from continuing to irritate the gums. You may also be instructed to do daily salt water rinses to help reduce bacteria and inflammation.
However, if the periodontitis is too severe, Dr. Ross may recommend the help of a periodontist, who is a dentist that specializes in periodontal treatment. Should this be the case, Dr. Ross will inform you.
How Long Does it Take for the Gum Disease to Go Away?
Periodontitis is permanent; once you have it you cannot get rid of it. You can prevent it from getting worse by brushing and flossing daily, and by coming in for your regular dental checkups to address areas that have been missed from your home care. After treatment, most of the redness and swelling will go away by 10 days. If you do have gingivitis, it is a similar recovery time – approximately 7 to 10 days before the swelling is gone.