Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is a very serious thing. It is the result of bacterial growth in the mouth and ignoring the signs and symptoms can lead to tissue destruction and tooth loss, among other things. With proper oral hygiene and regular dental visits you can prevent these bacteria from becoming a very real problem, both in the mouth and other health related issues in the body.
People often mistake gingivitis for periodontitis, but there are important differences that are recognizable between the two. Early stages of gingivitis have plaque buildup that cause the gums to become inflamed and often bleed easily during tooth brushing or flossing. At this stage, no irreversible bone or tissue damage has occurred. But when gingivitis is left untreated it advances to a more serious issue, periodontitis. This is where bone pulls away from the inner layer of your gums and forms pockets. Food particles and bacteria get stuck in these pockets and create toxins or poisons. When periodontitis occurs these toxins start to break down and destroy gum tissue and bone, which results in tooth loss. The leading cause of tooth loss in adults is this unfortunate type of disease caused by oral health neglect.
This may progress slowly and have a very subtle effect on the signs and how it presents itself, but some of those symptoms may be:
- Bleeding of the gums during tooth brushing or after
- Tender, red, or swollen gums
- Deep pocket formation between teeth and gums
- Teeth that are loose or have shifted
- Changes in your bite
- Receding gums
- Bad tastes in your mouth or persistent bad breath
In some cases, you may not even notice these symptoms. Often it may only affect the molars, but our professionals can help identify whether or not this is the case.
What are some of the causes of gum disease?
- Bad/poor oral hygiene habits – brushing and flossing every day is an important part of keeping bacteria from wreaking havoc in your mouth
- Hormonal changes – gums may become more sensitive and susceptible to harmful bacteria during pregnancy, menopause, puberty, and menstruation
- Illness – Other diseases within the body, such as cancer, HIV, and diabetes will interfere with the immune system. This puts patients at a higher risk of periodontal disease, cavities, and infection
- Medications – oral health can become affected by certain medications. They may lessen the flow of saliva, which is one of your mouths greatest protectors. Saliva washes away food particles that may become lodged between your teeth, causing plaque, gingivitis, and tartar
- Family history – genetics are the cause for the best and worst in all of us. Oral health is no different
How can gum disease be prevented?
The good news is that gum disease can almost always be reversed with proper oral hygiene and plaque control. This includes professional cleanings at least twice a year, and daily brushing and flossing. You can even add antibacterial mouthwash to your daily routine to reduce the bacteria that causes gum disease. However, frequent check-ups may be recommended for those who are genetically predisposed to form gum disease. Moral of the story, pay attention to your oral health and you’ll steer clear of the possibility of this unfortunate disease all together. A happy and healthy mouth leads to a happy and healthy life.