As family dentists in Erie, CO, our team at Impressions Dental wants to stress to patients that gum disease and tooth decay don’t happen overnight. Gum disease develops as a result of an infection that causes inflammation to develop in gum tissue. This inflammation then starts to attack the underlying tissue and bone structure that holds your teeth into position. However, gum disease progresses in easily identifiable stages.
Gingivitis, the first stage of the disease, is marked by gum tissue that swells and becomes reddish in color. Patients experiencing gingivitis may also notice their gums bleeding, especially after brushing or flossing. Late-stage gingivitis can cause even more severe inflammation that results in the development of periodontitis, or late stage gum disease.
During this step, gum tissue begins to pull away from the teeth, bone loss can develop, and teeth may start to loosen or fall out entirely.
Nearly half of all adults in the U.S. have developed some type of gum disease, according to the American Dental Association. For many, their gum disease remains untreated, which threatens the viability of their long-term oral health.
Common Causes of Gum Disease
The most common cause of gum disease is simply a patient not committing to maintaining a thorough oral hygiene routine. Brushing and flossing play an indispensable role in helping to lower an individual’s risk for both tooth decay and gum disease.
The primary culprit for all oral health issues is a biofilm known as plaque. Plaque contains a combination of harmful bacteria and food particles that linger in the mouth after eating.
Plaque forms naturally on the surface of your teeth, and if allowed to harden it transforms into tartar, a yellowish substance that discolors tooth enamel and contributes to the development of gum disease. Once plaque hardens into tartar, it can only be removed during a dental cleaning with our family dentists in Erie, CO.
Without regular cleanings, a patient has a much higher risk for developing gum disease.
A New Treatment Option Emerges
Considering how prevalent gum disease and the long-term risk it carries, researchers continue to look for new treatment options that can help family dentists in Erie, CO, like our team at Impressions, provide better care for their patients. Recently, researchers at the Department of Periodontics and Endodontics at New York State University at Buffalo conducted a retroactive study that uncovered a possible therapeutic link between medications used for treating heartburn and the treatment of gum disease.
The teams’ analysis found that people who used medication that reduces stomach acid – called proton pump inhibitors (PPI)– had a lower proportion of elevated probing depths when compared to non-PPI users. A decrease in probing depth signifies a less severe case of gum disease.
The results of this study may, in the future, provide a new approach for treating patients dealing with gum disease at any stage.
Uncovered in their research, the study found that 24 percent of teeth from patients who did not use PPIs had a probing depth of 6 mm or more compared to just 14 percent of those who did use a PPI.
Researchers hope that if the findings of their study are confirmed, health experts could use a combination of PPIs and other established techniques to find more successful options for the treatment of gum disease.