Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is an infection in the gums and jawbone that can affect one tooth or several teeth. It’s caused by the build-up of plaque around the teeth and gums and the gum irritation said plaque causes. Periodontal disease starts out as gingivitis, but if it is not treated properly, it can become periodontitis. You can lose your teeth with periodontitis, and the latest research links gum disease with heart disease as well as heart attacks, so everyone should take the hygiene and care of their gums seriously.
Periodontal Disease Symptoms
The symptoms of gum disease are very apparent and if you notice any of the following, you should contact your dentist immediately. These symptoms include bleeding gums while brushing, loose teeth, bad breath no matter what you try, and/or pus discharges around your teeth.
As mentioned earlier, gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease. It is not painful, so it is easy to overlook or ignore, but during this stage, the gums are swollen and often bleed very easily. Oral hygienists can quickly spot and treat gingivitis at your teeth cleaning visits.
If you ignore your gingivitis, it will most likely become periodontitis, a very serious form of periodontal disease. Bacteria will damage the tissues in and around your teeth and create what are called “periodontal pockets.” Infections will then surface in between your gums and teeth, inflicting further damage in the bone and gums. Unless a dentist quickly interferes at this point, you will lose those teeth.
There are three types of periodontitis: chronic periodontitis, aggressive periodontitis, and necrotizing periodontal disease.
Periodontal Disease Treatment
In the very early stages of gum disease, you can treat it quickly by regularly brushing and flossing your teeth. If it becomes more serious, only a dentist can treat it. The dentist will rigorously clean your teeth with a process called scaling, and if necessary, will prescribe antibiotics to clear up any infections. If your disease is extremely advanced, you may require periodontal surgery.
Preventing Periodontal Disease
You can easily prevent gum disease by brushing twice a day every day and flossing once a day every day. You should also keep regular teeth cleaning appointments with your dentist twice a year to help remove any tartar plaque build-up. Smoking or chewing tobacco also greatly increases your risk for contracting gum disease.
Just a little bit of prevention will go a long way toward averting not only periodontal disease but also costly procedures. If you think you might have signs of gum disease, contact our office as soon as possible so we can start treatment immediately and prevent any irreversible damage.