Gum disease is fairly common among adults in the US. About half of all adults in the US have some level of gum disease. The infection can range from mild to severe, and it is the leading cause of tooth loss in the US. It can be treated by our experienced general dentist near Fairfax. Please call Pamela Marzban, DDS, at 703-323-8200 to schedule an evaluation of your gum health.
The Cause of Gum Disease
Gum disease is caused by plaque. Dental plaque is a filmy, sticky substance that is always building up on your teeth and is composed of food debris, saliva and bacteria. The bacteria in plaque convert sugar into acid, and the acid eats away at your tooth enamel, forming a cavity. The bacteria can also irritate and infect your gums, which is when gum disease begins.
To combat the plaque and bacteria on your teeth, you must brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day. Flossing is a very important preventive measure because it removes the bacteria and food stuck in between your teeth.
There are certain factors increasing your risk of developing gum disease:
- Poor dental hygiene habits
- Failing to visit the dentist for routine cleanings
- Smoking and smokeless tobacco
- Hormonal changes
- Certain health conditions
- Family history of gum disease
Dr. Marzban, our dentist near Fairfax, can help you manage these factors to reduce your risk of gum disease.
Treatment for Gum Disease
Treating gum disease depends on the severity of the infection. Like most health conditions, it is easiest to reverse when treated as soon as symptoms appear.
Gingivitis: Gingivitis is the mildest form of gum disease. In this stage, the gums are red, swollen and will bleed easily. Most cases of gingivitis can be reversed with the combination of a professional cleaning and improved at-home oral hygiene habits.
Advanced gum disease: More serious forms may require advanced teeth and gum cleaning techniques. This type of treatment is sometimes referred to as scaling and planing. The teeth roots and gums are cleaned of plaque and bacteria (scaled), and the tooth roots are smoothed out so that bacteria can’t cling to rough spots (planed).
More severe forms of periodontitis may require gum surgery or medication, but you can prevent this stage by visiting the dentist for routine exams. If our dentist sees you regularly, she can spot the signs of gum disease before it progresses.
Consequences of Gum Disease
Gum disease is a threat to more than just your teeth. Because it’s a chronic bacterial infection, it can threaten your health, and even your life. Extensive research shows that gum disease can increase your risk of:
- Heart disease
- Autoimmune disorders
Bacteria from gum disease enters your bloodstream. It can infect your heart and it contributes to the formation of arterial plaque that can lead to heart attack and stroke. Because it is a chronic infection, it forces your immune system to work constantly. This causes chronic systemic inflammation. The systemic inflammation can lead to immune system dysfunction that causes autoimmune disorders. Chronic inflammation also causes genetic damage that can lead to cancer. Studies show gum disease is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, lung cancer, and pancreatic cancer.
If you think you may be experiencing the symptoms of gum disease and would like to be examined by an experienced dentist near Fairfax, Fairfax Station and Burke, please contact Pamela Marzban, DDS, to schedule a consultation.