Gum disease — also known as periodontal disease — is a common dental ailment that affects one out of every two American adults aged 30 and over. That’s no laughing matter. In fact, gum disease the leading cause of lost teeth in adults in the developed world.
But the danger is to more than teeth, periodontal disease has also been linked to Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis, pancreatic cancer, diabetes, stroke, heart disease and more! You might be wondering, “What are some of the symptoms of gum disease?” You may be shocked to learn you are already experiencing a few of them yourself.
What Is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal (meaning “around the tooth” in Greek) disease, also called periodontitis, is an inflammation and infection of the gum tissues that surround the teeth and the jawbone that anchors the teeth in place. It begins with bacteria in the mouth causing infections in your gum tissue and, if left untreated, can end with bone and tooth loss.
Causes of Periodontal Disease
The primary cause of periodontal disease is bacteria in plaque that is allowed to remain on and between teeth. The saliva and food particles in our mouths combine to form plaque, a clear sticky substance that coats our teeth. The bacteria in our mouth live in the plaque and feed on it and the food particles in it. The plaque that isn’t removed by brushing and flossing can harden and form tartar, which can irritate gums and can cause them to become inflamed and infected.
To get rid itself of the bacteria, our immune systems release defense cells that cause the gum tissue around the teeth to become inflamed. As our gums swell, they pull away from the teeth, causing them to loosen and also creating tiny pockets in which bacteria can cause infections.
Other factors that can bring on periodontal disease include:
- Smoking/tobacco use
- Hormonal changes (puberty, pregnancy, or menopause)
- Certain illnesses
- Poor nutrition
- Clenching or grinding teeth
Stages Of Periodontal Disease
Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gum tissue without loss of bone. A mild and reversible form of periodontitis, not all gingivitis progresses to periodontitis, but it certainly makes it more likely. In this stage, plaque accumulates on teeth and gums become inflamed, but teeth are still firmly planted in sockets. However, If left untreated, this inflammation can lead to gum disease.
Periodontal disease occurs when the destruction has reached the underlying bone. The pockets around the teeth created by the inflammation of gums deepen and more gum tissue and bone are afflicted. Eventually, due to the increasing inflammation, teeth can become loose and fall out.
What Are the Symptoms of Periodontal Disease?
- Gums that bleed easily while brushing and flossing.
- Swollen or tender 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 a bad taste in the mouth.
- New spaces developing between your teeth.
When You Should See a Dentist
The symptoms of gum disease can be painless. In fact, some patients may not even realize they have them. A periodontal evaluation with x-rays is the best method of finding and treating gum disease. If it’s been some time since you’ve been to the dentist, or if you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, schedule an exam with your dentist as soon as possible. Treating your periodontal disease now not only improves your oral health but can also have a have a positive effect on your overall health.
Dr. Harry W. McCool in Lilburn, GA wants to help you prevent, diagnose, and treat periodontal disease. Regular cleanings and check-ups combined with following an oral hygiene regimen at home can protect your teeth and gums from periodontal disease for years to come. Your bleeding gums after you brush or floss might be a sign of periodontal disease but don’t wait to find out! Contact us online today to schedule an appointment or call (770) 450-4407.