What is Gum Disease?

tmjGum disease, known clinically as periodontal disease or periodontitis, is a common dental ailment affecting one out of two adults over 30. It’s the leading cause of lost teeth in the developed world and can also lead to an increased risk of several health problems such as Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, pancreatic cancer, stroke, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Fortunately, you can take control of your oral health and prevent gum disease from jeopardizing your health. Dr. Mark Sowell and his team at Sensational Smile would like to offer some information to help you take steps to protect your oral health.

What Is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontitis (meaning around the tooth in Greek) is the disease that begins in the soft tissues of the gums that surround your teeth. If left untreated, the inflammation and infection in your gums can spread to the jawbone, leading to destruction of bone tissue and eventually tooth loss. The bacteria causing the infection can also spread to other areas of the body, causing potentially serious illnesses.

What Causes Gum Disease?

There is always bacteria present in our mouths, most of it harmless. These naturally-occurring microscopic life forms combine with leftover food particles and mucus on the teeth to form plaque. The plaque that isn’t removed by brushing and flossing hardens and forms a crusty, irritating substance called tartar.

The immune system releases defense cells to try to get rid of the tartar, causing inflammation in the areas around the teeth. As the gums swell from the inflammation, they pull away from the teeth, which creates small pockets that allow more bacteria to settle in.

Gum disease is not necessarily the result of poor oral hygiene on the patient’s part. Some other factors leading to periodontal disease include smoking, poor nutrition, stress, teeth grinding, or even hormonal changes such as pregnancy or menopause.

What Are the Symptoms of Periodontal Disease?

  • Chronic bad breath or constant bad taste in the mouth
  • Swollen, tender, or bleeding gums
  • Bleeding gums while brushing or flossing
  • Loose or shifting teeth
  • Pus between teeth and gums
  • New spaces between teeth

Stages Of Periodontal Disease

The first stage of periodontal disease is gingivitis, which is mild and reversible with treatment. Not all gingivitis changes into gum disease. At this stage, teeth are still firmly planted in their sockets, but plaque has built up on the teeth and the gums have become inflamed. Removing the tartar and paying extra attention to these areas when brushing and flossing from this point onward can reverse gingivitis. Bleeding gums are often a sign of gingivitis.

The condition is considered to be full-fledged periodontal disease when the destruction has reached the underlying bone. The pockets around teeth created by the inflammation of gum tissues deepen and more gum tissue and bone are exposed and affected. Eventually, due to loss of viable support from jawbone and gum tissue, the teeth can become loose and fall out.

When You Should See a Dentist

Many people don’t realize they have gum disease until it is too late, which is one reason why regular appointments with your dentist are so important. X-rays allow your dentist to see the structure of your teeth below the gums and into the roots of the teeth to ensure everything is healthy and your teeth are firmly in place. In most cases, gum disease can be prevented, which can have a positive effect on your oral health and your overall health.

Gum Disease Prevention in Plano, TX

Dr. Mark Sowell of Sensational Smiles can help you prevent, diagnose, and treat periodontal disease. Regular cleanings and check-ups combined with minimally invasive treatments can safeguard your teeth and gums from periodontal disease for years to come. Don’t wait to find out if your bleeding gums are an early sign of gum disease! Schedule your complimentary consultation with us online at our office in Plano, TX or call us at (972) 382-6855.