Periodontal disease is a common dental affliction suffered by one out of every two American adults that are 30 years old and older. It’s nothing to laugh at. In fact, periodontal disease- also known as gum disease- is the number one cause of tooth loss in adults in the developed world. Periodontal disease threatens more than just your teeth. It’s also been linked to Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis, pancreatic cancer, diabetes, stroke, heart disease and more! You may be thinking, “What are some periodontal disease symptoms?” You might be surprised to learn that you’re already experiencing some of them.
What Is Periodontal Disease?
In Greek periodontal means “around the tooth”. Periodontal disease, also known as periodontitis or simply gum disease, is when the gum tissues surrounding your teeth and the jawbone that anchors the teeth in place become diseased. Bacteria in the mouth is the point of origin. This bacteria causes infections in the roots of teeth and the gums and, if untreated, can end with tooth loss or even jawbone tissue loss.
Causes of Periodontal Disease
The primary cause of periodontal disease is leaving bacteria in plaque untreated. These bacteria in our mouths fuse with mucus and other particles to form plaque on our teeth. The plaque that isn’t eliminated by brushing and flossing solidifies and forms tartar.
To expunge the bacteria, our immune systems release defensive cells that cause areas of gum tissue around the teeth to become inflamed. As our gums swell, they form little pockets around our teeth as they draw away. More bacteria can settle into these pockets allowing the condition to worsen.
Other factors that can lead to gum disease include:
- Poor nutrition
- Smoking/tobacco use
- Hormonal changes (such as puberty, pregnancy, or menopause)
- Clenching or grinding teeth
- Certain illnesses
Stages Of Periodontal Disease
Inflammation of the gums when there has not yet been loss of bone is called gingivitis. This is a mild and reversible form of periodontal disease and not all gingivitis progresses into gum disease. Plaque accumulates on our teeth and our gums become inflamed, but our teeth are still firmly planted in their sockets at this point. However, if this is left untreated, this gum inflammation can lead to gum disease.
Periodontal disease is when the destruction caused by the infection has begun to affect the underlying bone. The pockets around teeth created by inflammation of gums deepen, causing more gum tissue and bone to be affected. Eventually, due to loss of gum support, the teeth will become loose and fall out.
What Are the Symptoms of Periodontal Disease?
- Swollen or tender gums.
- Gums that pull away from teeth.
- Gums easily bleed while brushing and flossing.
- Pus between your teeth and gums.
- Persistent bad breath or bad taste in the mouth.
- Changes in bite.
- Deep pockets between teeth and gums.
- Loose or shifting teeth.
- New spaces developing between your teeth.
When You Should See a Dentist
Patients with periodontitis don’t always feel pain; some people don’t even know they have it. A periodontal evaluation done by a dentist using an x-ray is the best way to diagnose gum disease. If it’s been some time since you’ve been to the dentist or if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, schedule an appointment with your dentist soon. Treating your periodontal disease now not only improves the health of your mouth and teeth but can also positively affect your overall health.
Dr. Alla Brown and Dr. Amanda Newberry of Lanier Family & Cosmetic Dentistry in Buford GA want to help you prevent, diagnose, and treat periodontal disease. Regular cleanings, check-up’s and minimally invasive treatments should be enough to protect your teeth and gums from serious cases of periodontal disease. However, if your gums are bleeding anyway, it might be a sign of gum disease. Don’t wait to find out! Contact us online today to schedule an appointment or call (678) 359-4707.