Periodontal Disease (Gum Disease) is an inflammation and infection of the tissues and bone that support teeth. It is caused by bacteria, which is found in plaque that forms on the teeth. Gum disease affects about 70-75% of adults however, it can occur at any age. Early symptoms often go unnoticed and can lead to tooth loss if not treated. Periodontal disease presents as either gingivitis or periodontitis.
Gingivitis is first stage of gum disease. Infection in the tissue is caused by poison produced from bacteria in plaque. These toxins irritate the gum tissue causing swelling, redness and bleeding. This damage can be reversed if properly treated.
During this stage of gum disease, the infection breaks down the bone and fibers that surround the teeth. With proper dental and home care, the disease can be controlled but not cured. Most people are not aware that damage is occurring in the bone until the disease has reached an advanced stage. At that time the teeth may loosen, shift or abscess.
Symptoms of Periodontal Disease:
Since you can not see that your bone is being destroyed, it is hard for you to see that you have this disease. At the dental office, your gums are examined and assessments are made to determine the health of your mouth.
Consult your dentist if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Red, swollen, and tender gums
- Bleeding with brushing or flossing
- Receding gums causing the teeth to look longer
- Spaces, movement or a change in the way your teeth bite together
- Pus coming from the tissues surrounding the teeth
- Bad taste or breath
Contributing Factors To Gum Disease:
- Poor Diet
- Hormone Changes
- Poor oral hygiene
- Irregular/infrequent dental visits
- Dry mouth
- Faulty dental restorations
- Diabetes Mellitus type 1 & 2
- Other systemic diseases
Can It Be Controlled?
Periodontal disease can be controlled depending on the progress of the disease and how well the patient takes care of their teeth at home.
If treated in the early stages, gum disease can be reversed. Good oral hygiene can help control the bacteria causing the infection. A professional cleaning is also needed to remove mature and calcified deposits from the teeth. Your dentist and hygienist will make recommendations to help control the disease. This may include additional aids to help with daily plaque removal, more frequent professional debridement or referral to a Periodontist (gum specialist).
The best way to prevent periodontal disease is good oral health.
Here are some tips:
- Brush teeth at least twice a day to remove plaque
- Floss everyday to remove plaque from between the teeth
- Eat healthy foods
- Visit the dentist regularly
- Drink lots of water
- Do not drink sodas
Without treatment, periodontal disease will not cure itself. Generally, this disease, if left untreated, progressively gets worse, and can eventually lead to the loss of teeth and bone structure. Regular examinations and cleanings with a dental professional are vital to your oral health. Make time at home, to take care of your gums and teeth to keep them healthy.