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Gum disease is an infection of the tissues that surround and support the teeth. It is also called periodontal disease.
There are two types of gum disease:
Gum disease is caused by the growth of germs called bacteria on the teeth and gums. Bacteria are present in plaque, a clear, sticky substance that your mouth produces.
Healthy gums are pink and firm, fit snugly around the teeth, and do not bleed easily. When you have gum disease, you may see changes to your gums.
There are two types of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontitis. The symptoms are different for each condition.
Gingivitis usually isn't painful, so you may not notice the symptoms and may not get the treatment you need.
In periodontitis, the symptoms are more advanced. They include:
If you think you have gum disease, see your dentist right away. Early treatment can keep it from getting worse.
To find out if you have gum disease, your dentist or dental hygienist will do an exam. During the exam, they will look for problems like bleeding gums or areas where your gums are pulling away from your teeth. You may get X-rays of your teeth to look for bone damage and other problems.
Early treatment of gum disease is very important. It can help prevent permanent gum damage, control infection, and prevent tooth loss.
For gingivitis, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to help fight the infection. Your dentist may also suggest an antibacterial toothpaste to help reduce plaque and improve gingivitis.
For periodontitis, your dentist or dental hygienist may clean your teeth using a method called root planing and scaling. This removes the plaque and tartar buildup both above and below the gum line.
You may need surgery if these treatments don't control the infection. Surgery may also be needed if you have severe damage to your gums or teeth.
After surgery, you may need to take antibiotics or other medicines to aid healing and prevent infection.
Gum disease is most common in adults, but it can affect anyone, even children. So good dental habits are important throughout your life.
Current as of:
November 13, 2022
Author: Healthwise StaffClinical Review Board: All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.
Current as of: November 13, 2022
Clinical Review Board:
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2023 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
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