Periodontal Disease, commonly known as “Gum disease” is a major cause of adult tooth loss, and 75% of adults have it. It is an infection of the gums around the teeth.
Many people don’t even know they have it as it is almost painless. Your dentist checks for signs of periodontal disease by measuring the space between the gums and teeth.
The Causes of Gum Disease
Any plaque, a sticky bacteria that forms on the teeth, that is not removed by flossing and brushing, or that accumulates because of missed
or from regular dental cleanings, will build up and create damaging toxins on the gums. Periodontal disease then forms below the gum line creating small pockets separating gums from the teeth.
Allowing plaque to accumulate between your teeth increases the risk of plaque in your bloodstream, thus increasing the risk of a heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular problem.
Gingivitis and periodontitis are the two stages of periodontal disease. They are the following:
- Gingivitis: The earliest stage of gum disease. Gums get red and swollen, and bleed easily. The disease is still treatable and can be eliminated by regular brushing and flossing.
- Periodontitis: Untreated gingivitis becomes periodontitis. The gums and bone supporting the teeth deteriorate and become permanently damaged. Eventually, teeth loosen, fall out, or are removed by the dentist.
Risk Factors or Behaviors that may cause Periodontal Disease:
- Smoking or using chewing tobacco
- Medications such as steroids, cancer therapy drugs, anti-epilepsy drugs, oral contraceptives and calcium channel blockers
- Improperly-fitting bridges
- Crooked teeth
- Old fillings
Common Symptoms of Periodontal or Gum Disease:
- Gums bleed easily
- Red, swollen or tender gums
- Gums pulling away from teeth
- Continual halitosis or bad taste
- Changes in the fit of partial dentures
- Teeth that are loose or separating
- Changes in the way your teeth come together when you chew or bite
- Pus between your teeth and gums
TREATING GUM DISEASE
Gum disease treatments vary depending on its severity. Treatments include the following:
- Dental implants
- Periodontal trays, which are non-surgical and can be done at home.
- Scaling and root planing (deep cleaning) – perhaps as often as every 3-4 months until the condition is alleviated
- Periodontal and laser gum surgery
GUM DISEASE PREVENTION
Regular dental checkups with periodontal examinations will help maintain your health and your smile. Tooth loss to periodontal disease doesn’t have to happen. Just practice good oral hygiene at home.
You may reduce your chances of getting gum disease by doing the simple habits listed above. Just be sure to brush your teeth regularly, clean between them, eat a nutritious diet, and see your dentist regularly keep your healthy smile.