What is Gum Disease?

Many studies have shown that approximately half of adults in the US have Periodontitis, gum disease. Therefore, many of you who are patients in our practice have had us mention gum disease to you.  Some of you, fortunate ones, have only had us talk to you about it from a preventive point of view.

What is gum disease? It is infection and inflammation in the gum tissue and bone which surround and support teeth. This disease will make the gums pull away from the teeth.  As gum disease advances, there is greater deterioration of these gums and bones which support the teeth.  And yes, it involves the dreaded “bone loss” word that we hear about in other medical conditions. Gum disease causes gradual loss of bone supporting the teeth.  These teeth will become loose and eventually fall out if not treated.

What causes gum disease? Many of you have heard of dental plaque. It is a film that is almost always on our teeth. This plaque contains germs and bacteria.  This film or plaque will harden over time and form calculus. Plaque and calculus which contain these bacteria form contact with your gums.  The gums become inflamed.  Inflamed gums are red, swollen and bleed. This starts the disease process which deteriorates the gums and bone supporting these teeth.

How do you prevent gum disease?

  1. Brush your teeth 2-3 times/day with fluoride toothpaste.
  2. Floss your teeth or use a Waterpik to clean between teeth.
  3. Use therapeutic mouthwashes – mentioned in a previous blog. My personal favorite is Listerine, but I am starting to like Crest Pro-Health with Scope.
  4. Avoid all forms of tobacco.

What is a treatment for gum disease?

A more advanced type of cleaning is needed for teeth with gum disease.  This advanced cleaning is a “deeper” type of cleaning called Scaling and Root Planing, a periodontal therapy. With scaling, plaque and calculus is removed which exists below the gums.  This is the main difference between normal cleaning appointments and scaling and root planning. Also, root surfaces are smoothed at this time.  The smooth root surface aids in healing and re-attachment of gums to teeth.

Coming soon: The link between gum disease and other diseases.

Yours in dental health,

Dr. David Roach


Dr. David Roach Nashville Dentist - Our Fearless Leader!

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