What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease, also referred to as gum disease, afflicts up to 80% of the American population. The condition eventually advances to a serious disease that destroys oral health and can greatly affect overall health. Gum disease is most often caused by poor oral hygiene, which leads to excessive plaque buildup at the gum line. In about two days, naturally occurring plaque that is not removed from teeth will calcify into tartar, also called calculus. Tartar harbors bacteria and irritates gum tissue. As a result, infection sets in and bacteria eat away the bond between teeth and gums. Periodontal pockets of infection form at the base of teeth. These pockets may appear red and swollen.
Can someone who practices great oral hygiene and attends six-month checkups and cleanings get gum disease?
Yes. Poor oral health is the leading cause of gum disease. However, hormone fluctuations, medications, dry mouth, and other factors can lead to gum disease.
How can I know if I have gum disease?
The early form of gum disease, gingivitis, can leave gums tender, deep red or purple, and susceptible to bleeding. In some cases, no symptoms are present. At a hygiene visit, your hygienist will assess your gums and measure periodontal pockets. If pocket depth is 3mm+, you may be developing gum disease. Your best means of early detection is through six-month checkups and cleanings at Holistic Dentists.
How serious is gum disease?
While the effects of gingivitis are reversible, the condition is chronic. Once gum disease is present, the patient will require deep cleaning, followed by a diligent routine of daily oral hygiene and frequent checkups.
If gingivitis advances into periodontitis, bacteria compromise gum and bone, causing necrosis (death) of the tissues. Oral health spirals downward. Teeth become loose and fall out. Bone loses density. The intense infection compromises overall health by increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, respiratory issues, pregnancy problems, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes complications. Emerging research continues to underscore the link between gum disease and overall health. Studies are being conducted to determine whether gum disease is also linked to cancers and other serious diseases.
What are some symptoms of gum disease?
Early forms of gum disease do not always manifest noticeable symptoms. Listed below are some signs that indicate gum disease:
- Swollen gum tissue
- Deep red or purple color gum tissue
- Gums have receded from the teeth
- Loose teeth
- Gums that bleed easily when brushing or flossing
- Chronic halitosis (bad breath)
- A persistent bad taste in the mouth
How is gum disease treated?
To treat moderate gum disease, we often recommend a deep cleaning or scaling and root planning. Sometimes, antibiotics are also administered. A deep cleaning is followed by frequent checkups to assess progress. Advanced gum disease, called periodontitis, may require the expertise of a specialist.