What is gingivitis and periodontitis?
First point to be noted by public is that both don’t occur on tooth surface but around the tooth surface. When we say around the tooth, the structures around the tooth are gingiva(gums) and bone (alveolar bone). These structures start getting spoiled due to bad brushing, bad habits such as smoking & drinking, bad alignment of teeth, general diseases already existing in the body etc. Most common reason for gums to get affected is improper brushing and improper oral care. This in turn leads to soft dirt deposition called plaque accumulating around the neck of the gums which when left unattended turns to hard deposits called calculus or Tartar. When these deposits stay in gums for long period it can lead to inflammation and infection in gums associated with bad odour. If this condition affects gums alone then it is called gingivitis. If it affects gums as well as alveolar bone then it is called Periodontitis.
What is a pocket in gums?
Gums are soft pink structures seen around the teeth when we smile. Beneath The gums around 2mm under the gums there is a hard bone called “alveolar bone” surrounding the tooth. If the teeth maintenance is not good then slowly dirt starts accumulating in this to 2mm area. This is a slow and steady process and as the year pass by like 5 or 10 years down the lane this 2 mm becomes 5 to 6 mm. But height of the gums remain the same, the individual who is having this issue slowly have food trapped between the teeth while eating which will be common problem for him / her. This problem is aggravated by other general health problems like uncontrolled diabetes, vitamin D deficiency, Menopause in women, hormonal imbalance in Young women, vitamin B12 deficiency especially in vegetarians, shift in normal immune balance and stress. This trout formation in bone and gums resulting in tooth loss is called gum pocket.
These pockets can cause hidden cavities in between these structures resulting in more weakening of the teeth. If the bone loss is more than 5 to 7 mm then teeth starts becoming slowly loose because the supporting bone is absent. Even at this stage the individual suffering from this problem may not have severe pain and discomfort. This is a uniqueness of this disease and that's why I repeat that Gum disease is a silent killer. When these gum pockets are present, people generally put toothpick or sharp object around the gums. Even though individual gets immediate relief from this actually he/she is aggravating the problem in the long run. Reason cited is that when they use toothpick, they tend to push the food particles more into the gum thereby amplifying the problem in the long run. If the gum pockets are more than 5 mm, it requires immediate attention from gum specialist called PERIODONTIST. The dental procedures done to reduce the infection for gum pockets are scaling, root planning, deep curettage, flap surgery and in some worst scenarios require bone graft and even intentional Root Canal therapy to stabilize the mobile tooth.
SYSTEMIC DISEASE ASSOCIATED WITH GUM DISEASE
Since “Oral cavity being the mirror image of the body”, Gum disease can be a symptomatic response of any disharmony in the body.
Do you know the most common systemic diseases associated with your bleeding gums?
Diabetes- Bleeding / swollen gums can be a warning sign of type I (or) II diabetes
High blood sugar levels that go along with diabetes make it harder for body to heal, that makes gum disease worse.
Hyper & Hypo Thyroidism - Any hormonal imbalance in the body commence with gingival inflammation, irritation and bleeding gums.
Pre and Post Pregnancy - Bleeding gums can also occur due to depression and elevation in hormone levels.
Vitamin Deficiency- Vitamin C deficiency often leads to bleeding gums due to the condition called “scurvy“
Vitamin K and D deficiency not only causes gingival bleeding, but also causes severe bone loss leading to periodontitis.
A Sign of Cancer?
Bleeding gums can be a sign of leukemia, commonly called blood cancer.
MYTHs AND FACTs
People have a myth that cleaning/scaling brightens the teeth; but the fact is that scaling keeps the gums and teeth healthy. For the teeth to brighten, cosmetic treatment like “Teeth whitening“ is required.
Again, a myth exists that by cleaning/scaling, the tooth enamel gets worn off; but the fact is that regular scaling keeps the gum and teeth strong.
“Early care results in better recovery”