It’s certainly no fun to go to the dentist and find out you or your child have gum disease. This diagnosis can come with a lot of questions and anxiety. The question that is first for many patients is whether or not there is a cure for gum disease.
Gum disease can generally only be cured or reversed if it is diagnosed in the early stages, which is commonly known as gingivitis. Gum disease that progresses to more serious forms such as periodontitis will often cause more serious and irreversible damage.
Read our informative article to learn more about the causes, types, and treatments for gum disease. By working with your dentist and taking a proactive approach to oral hygiene and gum treatments you can find the best possible outcomes and potential cures for your condition.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease, or periodontal disease, generally refers to an infection and inflammation of the gums, which help to hold the teeth in place and protect them. The most common cause of gum disease is a bacterial infection from plaque and tartar buildup by the teeth.
The American Dental Association does consider gum disease and gingivitis to be a contagious condition because the bacteria can spread by saliva, but transmission is relatively rare. Although certain risk factors like smoking and diabetes can increase the chances of developing gum disease, by far the biggest contributor is poor oral hygiene and missing regular dental checkups and cleanings.
Symptoms of gum disease include swollen and red gums, bleeding, bad breath, soreness and sensitivity, and loose teeth. In later stages, gum disease can also result in receding gums and even tooth loss.
Types of Gum Disease
Gum disease is usually divided into two main types, gingivitis, or early gum disease, and periodontitis, or late gum disease. Characteristics of these types of gum disease include:
- Gingivitis: This early and relatively mild stage of gum disease is usually marked by red and swollen gums and potentially some bleeding, particularly after brushing or flossing. There usually is not any pain or irritation at this point. Gingivitis is almost always treatable with improved oral hygiene, proper diet, and dental care.
- Periodontitis: This advanced form of gum disease typically progresses from untreated gingivitis. If plaque and tartar begins to advance below the gumline and cause deeper infection, it can cause serious damage to the gums and the teeth. At the most advanced stages, these periodontal infections cause deep pockets to form between the gums and teeth. If left untreated, this can eventually cause the teeth to loosen and even fall out.
Although advanced gum disease can cause irreversible damage, there are still treatment options that can stop the damage from worsening.
Preventing Gum Disease
The best thing anyone can do to prevent gum disease in themselves and their children is practice good oral hygiene. This means brushing twice a day and flossing once a day using proper techniques.
It also means limiting sugary drinks, snacks, and treats. This is because the bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease love to eat sugar that is left on the surface of the teeth. Brushing and flossing removes much of the food and plaque from our teeth, while limiting sugar makes oral hygiene all the more effective.
Your dentist may recommend other lifestyle changes if you are at a higher risk of gum disease. One of the biggest steps anyone can take is to quit smoking or using tobacco if they are currently doing so.
Treating and Curing Gum Disease
In general, early gingivitis can be easily treated and even cured with regular cleanings, diligent brushing and flossing, and healthy eating. Your dentist may also recommend special rinses, and in more advanced cases of gingivitis, periodontal treatments such as oral antibiotics and scaling and root planing (SRP). SRP is a technique that helps eliminate stains and plaque from below the gumline.
If gum disease has advanced to periodontitis, it is generally not as easy to treat and it may require more advanced treatment, including periodontal surgery. Periodontal surgery can include steps to repair damaged bones, roots, and gum tissue. In some cases, periodontal surgeons may transplant gum tissue from another place to stop receding gums and slow down periodontitis.
What a Dentist Can Do and What You Can Do
No matter what stage of gum disease you or your child is in, and whether or not it can be cured, the best thing you can do is work closely with your dentist and be proactive about prevention and treatment. It is never too late to start taking oral hygiene seriously, and it can benefit even advanced cases of periodontitis.
Similarly, by getting regular dental checkups and cleanings, and undergoing any recommended treatments, you can ensure the best possible outcome for gum disease.
Keep Your Family’s Teeth Healthy with the Help of AC Pediatric Dentistry
Going to the dentist can be scary — we get it. But it should be fun! Whether it’s care for baby teeth, big kid teeth, oral surgery, or orthodontics, our team of specialized pediatric dentists make the experience memorable while teaching you how to encourage healthy habits and good hygiene for lifelong smiles. Call us today or request an appointment online. We can’t wait to meet you!