Could I Have Gum Disease?

One out of every two Americans aged 30 and over is afflicted with periodontal disease affects. These are significant numbers meaning that periodontitis is the leading cause of lost teeth among adults in the developed world. But periodontal disease affects more than teeth; it has also been linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis, pancreatic cancer, diabetes, stroke, heart disease and more! This may make you take flossing a little more seriously.

Maybe you’re wondering, “What are some of the symptoms of periodontal disease?” You may be shocked to learn you are already experiencing a few of them yourself.

What Is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal means “around the tooth” in Greek and is also called periodontitis or more commonly gum disease. This is because it is a disease of the gum tissues that surround the teeth and of the jawbone that keeps them secure in your mouth. It begins with bacteria in the mouth causing inflammation of the gums, and, if not treated promptly, can end with tooth loss.

Causes of Periodontal Disease

The main cause of periodontal disease is bacteria in plaque allowed to flourish unchecked. The mucus and leftover food particles in our mouths combine to form plaque on our teeth that the bacteria feed on. The plaque that is not removed by brushing and flossing hardens and forms tartar which only a dental hygienist can remove safely.

To rid itself of the bacteria, our immune systems cause areas of the gums around these tartar-encrusted teeth to become inflamed. As our gums swell, they pull away from the teeth creating little pockets that allow more bacteria to settle in which can lead to infections.

Other factors that could lead to periodontal disease include:

  • Smoking/tobacco use
  • Hormonal changes (puberty, pregnancy, or menopause)
  • Certain illnesses
  • Genetics
  • Poor nutrition
  • Stress
  • Clenching or grinding teeth

Stages Of Periodontal Disease

Gingivitis is the stage of gum disease when gums are inflamed but there has not yet been any  loss of bone tissue. This stage is a mild and reversible and not all gingivitis progresses to periodontitis. However, if left untreated, gum inflammation can eventually lead to periodontitis.

Full-fledged periodontal disease is when the destruction has reached the underlying bone tissu. As the pockets surrounding the teeth that are created by gum inflammation deepen, more gum and bone tissue are affected. Eventually, the teeth can lose stability 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 your mouth.
  • New spaces developing between your teeth.

When You Should See a Dentist

Periodontal disease is not always painful and some people may not even know they have it. A periodontal evaluation, complete with an x-ray, is the best method to diagnose gum disease so you can begin treatment. If it’s been some time since you’ve seen the dentist, or if you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, see 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. Mark Sowell of Sensational Smiles in Plano, TX wants to help you prevent, diagnose, and treat periodontal disease. Regular cleanings and check-ups combined with minimally invasive treatments can protect your teeth and gums from periodontitis for years to come. So don’t ignore your inflamed, bleeding gums! Contact us online or call (972) 382-6855 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Sowell today.