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What causes gum disease?

Gum disease is caused by untreated plaque and tartar on your teeth. Over time, the bacteria in the plaque and tartar causes inflammation, which leads to bleeding and soreness of the gums. This is the early stage of gum disease known as gingivitis. Gingivitis can usually be treated with regular brushing and flossing as well as regular cleanings to remove the plaque and tartar causing the gingivitis. At this stage, gum disease can be reversed with no permanent damage to your teeth or gums.

If gingivitis is left unchecked, it can worsen into the more severe form of gum disease known as periodontitis. In periodontitis the inflammation causes your gums to pull away from the teeth, creating “pockets.” These pockets become infected as plaque spreads below the gumline. The bacteria coupled with your body's immune response to the infection can cause damage to your teeth and the surrounding bone and gum tissue.

Periodontitis can sometimes be treated with a deep cleaning by a dental hygienist that includes scaling and root planing. Sometimes, antibacterial medications are helpful. If the pockets remain after scaling and root planing, surgery may be necessary to correct the pockets and prevent future infection. Periodontitis can also lead to tooth loss if left untreated and may require bone or tissue grafts if severe enough.

Call today to schedule an appointment for a cleaning to help prevent gum disease.

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