Periodontal Disease or Gum Disease affects many adults and if left untreated gum disease can become a sever health issue. Periodontal disease starts out as simple gum inflammation. Depending on your diet and hygiene practice, gum disease can rapidly become a serious issue that can result in major damage to the soft tissue and bone that support your teeth. In worst cases scenarios, teeth are lost and other health issues may arise because your immune system is stunned and you are more susceptible to other illnesses.
How you care for your teeth will determine if your gum disease is stopped, slowed, or gets worse.
What causes gum disease?
Gum disease is caused by bacteria. Your mouth is full of bacteria. Some bacteria is good and some not so good. A sticky, colorless plaque forms on your teeth from the bacteria, mucus and other particles in your mouth. As plaque builds up it hardens and forms tartar. The longer plaque and tartar remain on your teeth, the more harmful they become. As soon as plaque has hardened it becomes very difficult to remove with at-home dental care and in most cases must be removed by your dentist.
The bacteria first starts to cause inflammation of the gums. When this happens this is called gingivitis. The gums become red, swollen and can bleed easily. Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease that can usually be reversed with daily brushing and flossing and regular cleanings by a dentist or dental hygienist. This form of gum disease does not include any loss of bone and tissue that hold teeth in place, however, if left untreated will lead to periodontitis or periodontal disease.
Periodontitis or Periodontal Disease
When gingivitis is not treated, it can advance to periodontitis, (which means “inflammation around the tooth”). Gums begin to pull away from the teeth and form spaces called pockets. These pockets can easily become infected. The body’s natural defense system will fight the bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line. Bacterial toxins and the body’s natural response to infection start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place. If not treated, the bones, gums, and tissue that support the teeth are destroyed. The teeth may eventually become loose and have to be removed.
At this stage brushing and flossing alone may not be enough to revers the effects of periodontal disease. A professional cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist is recommended as they can remove tartar and your teeth and gums can begin to heal. It is highly recommended to have regular cleanings for this cause. If periodontal disease is present regular dental cleaning will be recommended every 6 months and in some cases earlier.
If periodontal disease has resulted in bone and tissue loss consult with Dr. Bruggeman on your options and step toward treatment.
Individuals With High Risk Factors for Gum Disease
- Smoking: Smoking is one of the most significant risk factors associated with the development of gum disease. Additionally, smoking can lower the chances for successful treatment.
- Hormonal changes in women: These changes can make gums more sensitive and make it easier for gingivitis to develop.
- Diabetes: People with diabetes are at higher risk for developing infections, including gum disease.
- Other illnesses: Diseases like cancer or AIDS and their treatments can also negatively affect the health of gums.
- Medications: Medications that reduce the flow of saliva make your mouth vulnerable to infection. Since saliva has a protective effect on the mouth, without enough saliva, the mouth is vulnerable to diseases such as gum disease. Some medications can cause abnormal overgrowth of the gum tissue, which can make it difficult to keep teeth and gums clean.
- Genetic susceptibility: Some people are more prone to severe gum disease than others.
Symptoms of Gum Disease
- Bad breath that won’t go away
- Red or swollen gums
- Tender or bleeding gums
- Painful chewing
- Loose teeth
- Sensitive teeth
- Receding gums or longer appearing teeth
Treatments of gum disease include deep cleaning (Scaling and Root Planing), medications or surgical treatment. Some surgical treatments involve flap surgery or bone and tissue grafting.
More Health Problems?
There are numerous studies, but so far it has not been determined whether gum disease is the cause of other conditions. However, when your gums become diseased, your entire immune system is weakened. There is a link between gum disease and stroke, heart disease, diabetes and an increased risk for pregnant women when your immune system is under attack. Simply do not risk it. Your teeth should be an important part of your body and apart of your over all health.