Periodontal disease is a common dental ailment that affects one out of every two American adults aged 30 and over. That’s not a small number. In fact, periodontal disease- more commonly known as gum disease- is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults in the developed world. But the risks from gum disease go beyond a threat to your teeth! Doctors have linked periodontal disease to Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis, pancreatic cancer, diabetes, stroke, heart disease and more! If you find yourself wondering about the symptoms of periodontal disease, read on. Dr. Ray Becker of Howard County Smiles, an experienced dentist in Ellicott City MD, wants to educate patients about the signs and risks of periodontal disease.
What Is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal means “around the tooth” in Greek. Periodontal disease, also called periodontitis, is an infection of the gum tissues surrounding your teeth and can spread into the roots of your teeth and even the jawbone that anchors the teeth in place. It begins with bacteria in the mouth, and, if untreated, can eventually lead to tooth loss.
Causes of Periodontal Disease
The chief cause of periodontal disease is bacteria in our mouths allowed to spread unchecked. These bacteria bond with mucus and other particles to form plaque on our teeth. When we brush and floss properly we, remove the plaque before it can cause problems. The plaque that isn’t removed hardens and forms tartar which must be removed by a dentist.
To destroy the bacteria, our immune systems release defensive cells that inflame tissue around the teeth. As our irritated gums swell, they pull away from the teeth creating tiny pockets that allow more bacteria to settle in, destabilizing the teeth. Eventually, this allows decay to set in below the gum line and even infect the roots.
Other factors that could lead to periodontal disease include:
- Smoking/tobacco use
- Hormonal changes (from puberty, pregnancy, or menopause)
- Certain illnesses
- Genetic predisposition
- Poor diet
- Clenching or grinding teeth
Stages Of Periodontal Disease
Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gums without loss of bone. This early stage is a mild and reversible form of periodontitis and not all gingivitis progresses to periodontitis. At this point plaque has built up on teeth and gums have become inflamed, but teeth are still firmly planted in sockets. However, if left untreated, this inflammation can lead to gum disease.
Full-fledged periodontal disease exists when the destruction has reached the underlying bone. The pockets created by gum inflammation deepen, exposing more gum tissue and bone to the infection. Eventually, due to insufficient gum support, the teeth can become loose and fall out.
What Are the Symptoms of Periodontal Disease?
- Bleeding gums when brushing or flossing.
- Swollen and sensitive gums.
- Gums that pull away from teeth.
- Changes in the way teeth fit together upon biting down.
- Deep pockets between teeth and gums.
- Loose or shifting teeth.
- Pus between your teeth and gums.
- Persistent bad breath or bad taste in the mouth.
- New spaces developing between your teeth.
When You Should See a Dentist
You can have gum disease and not even know it as there is not always pain accompanying it. Having a periodontal evaluation complete with an x-ray is the best way to find and treat gum disease. If it’s been some time since you’ve seen a dentist, or if you are enduring any of the symptoms above, see your dentist soon. Treating your symptoms of periodontal disease not only improves your oral health but can also have a have a positive effect on your overall health.
Dr. Becker in Ellicott City MD wants to help you prevent, diagnose, and treat periodontal disease. Regular cleanings and check-up’s can protect your teeth and gums from periodontal disease for years to come. Your bleeding gums might be a sign of gum disease so contact Howard County Smiles online today to schedule an appointment or call 410.415.9013.