Periodontal Disease/Gingivitis/Periodontitis (gum disease)
This is a serious bacterial condition that damages and destroys the gum tissue and bone that support your teeth. Untreated periodontal disease is a leading cause of tooth loss among adults. Except in its earliest stages, periodontal disease cannot be completely cured. It can be controlled and managed.
Current research shows some alarming new information about the effects of periodontal disease. Many studies, including several published in the Journal of Periodontology, confirm that people with periodontal disease are at a greater risk for other serious illnesses. That is because infected gums release significantly higher levels of bacteria into the bloodstream that then spread to other organs in the body.
Periodontal bacteria may contribute to, but is not limited to: Heart disease, stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis, and pre-term and low birth weight babies. There are many stages of periodontal disease and it is important to discuss your individual situation with your doctor.
Contributing risk factors included but are not limited to: age, smoking, stress, poor dental care, diabetes, genetics, hormonal changes, medications, other systemic diseases, poor nutrition, and cleaning and grinding teeth.
Other than poor oral hygiene, there are several other factors that may increase the risk of developing periodontal disease:
- Smoking or chewing tobacco: Tobacco users are more likely than non-users to form plaque and tartar on their teeth.
- Certain tooth or appliance conditions: Bridges that no longer fit properly, crowded teeth, or defective fillings that may trap plaque and bacteria.
- Many medications: Steroids, cancer therapy drugs, blood pressure meds, oral contraceptives. Some medications have side effects that reduce saliva, making the mouth dry and plaque easier to adhere to the teeth and gums.
- Pregnancy, oral contraceptives, and puberty: Can cause changes in hormone levels, causing gum tissue to become more sensitive to bacteria toxins.
- Systemic diseases: Diabetes, blood cell disorders, HIV / AIDS, etc.
- Genetics may play a role: Some patients may be predisposed to a more aggressive type of periodontitis. Patients with a family history of tooth loss should pay particular attention to their gums.
Signs and Symptoms of Periodontal Disease:
- Red and puffy gums: Gums should never be red or swollen.
- Bleeding gums: Gums should never bleed, even when you brush vigorously or use dental floss.
- Persistent bad breath, caused by bacteria in the mouth.
- New spacing between teeth, caused by bone loss.
- Loose teeth: Also caused by bone loss or weakened periodontal fibers (fibers that support the tooth to the bone).
- Pus around the teeth and gums is a sign that there is an infection present.
- Receding gum or loss of gum around a tooth.
- Tenderness or discomfort is caused by plaque, calculus, and bacteria which irritate the gums and teeth.
Good oral hygiene, a balanced diet, and regular dental visits can help reduce your risk of developing periodontal disease.