Gum Disease: What You and Your Dentist Need to Discuss

  • Posted on: Feb 28 2018

Periodontal Treatment Grand Rapids MIWhen you see the dentist, it can feel like the majority of the attention is on your teeth. Historically, this was the focus of dentistry. Today, though, we know that it is also necessary to observe the soft tissue in the mouth. Dental exams have expanded from observing the visible portion of teeth to assessing areas beneath the gums (thanks to x-rays) to evaluating teeth, roots, and also the gums and other soft tissues. This pattern of examination is followed because we want to catch indications of gum inflammation as early as possible.

The Progression of Disease

One of the details that are now discussed in dentistry is how the mouth affects the body. Gum disease, in particular, has become a mitigating factor in a person’s risk for heart disease and complications with chronic conditions like diabetes. This disease isn’t always the disease, though. Initially, gum disease is nothing more than inflammation and risk. We call this inflammation gingivitis, and we work quickly to remove bacteria from teeth and gums to halt the progression of inflammation into full-blown infection.

The latter two stages of gum disease involve the tissue beneath the gums. Periodontitis is an infection in superficial tissue around teeth, and it involves deterioration of gum structure, which puts teeth at risk. Advanced periodontitis is a deep infection that may reach the jawbone. When the disease has reached either of these stages, our objective becomes management. There is no cure.

What You and Your Dentist Need to Know

Your dentist draws conclusions about your general state of oral health through observation. However, there are important details that only you can provide. These include:

  • Your family history. If you are aware of issues like gum disease or early tooth loss in close family members, you want to let your dentist know. It is possible that genetics factor into gum disease risk.
  • General health matters. Patients with ongoing health conditions like diabetes or autoimmune disease are susceptible to infection. In such cases, we may want to examine and clean teeth more frequently.
  • Your stress levels. Sometimes, we can detect ongoing stress through signs like excessive tooth wear or fractures. We’d rather not find out like this, though. If you tend to feel stressed and anxious, talk with your dentist. Also, explore ways to reduce stress, such as taking a daily walk or listening to relaxing music before bed.
  • Your habits. You should tell your dentist if you smoke or use tobacco products. It is also important that we know if you chew on hard objects or clench your jaw. These are factors that relate to gum disease, and factors we may be able to combat specific strategies.

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Posted in: Periodontal Treatment