Periodontal disease affects one out of two American adults over 30. It is so prevalent that it is, in fact, the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. But the threat is to more than just your teeth, periodontal disease has been linked to Alzheimer’s Disease, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease. You may be wondering, “How do I know if I’m developing periodontitis?” You might be surprised to learn you may have preliminary signs of gum disease. Dr. Mark Sowell wants to help you recognize them so you can seek help now.
What Is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal means “around the tooth.” Periodontal disease, also called periodontitis or gum disease, is an 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 being allowed to flourish unchecked on the gum tissues and can eventually result in tooth and bone loss.
What Causes Gum Disease?
The main cause of periodontal disease is bacteria in plaque – a clear, sticky substance formed from food particles and saliva, that is allowed to remain at your gum line on your teeth. The bacteria in our mouths consume this plaque, irritating our gums in the process when plaque hardens to form tartar.
To rid itself of the bacteria, our immune systems release defensive cells that cause gum tissue around the teeth to become inflamed. As our gums swell, they pull away from the teeth creating little pockets.
Other factors that could lead to 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 inflammation of the gums without loss of bone. It is a mild and reversible form of periodontitis, but not all gingivitis progresses to periodontitis. Plaque builds up on teeth and gums become inflamed. If left untreated, gum inflammation can lead to gum disease. Periodontal disease occurs when the infection reaches the bone. and deepens the pockets created by gum inflammation. Eventually, due to loss of support, the teeth can become loose and fall out.
What Are the Signs of Gum 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 To See a Dentist for Gum Disease
Periodontal disease can be painless and you may not even know you have it until it is too late. A periodontal evaluation complete with an x-ray is the best way to diagnose and treat gum disease. If it’s been a while since you’ve been to the dentist, or if you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, see your dentist soon. Treating your periodontal disease earlier not only improves the health of your mouth but your overall health.
Your bleeding gums might be a sign of periodontal disease. Don’t wait to find out! Call (972) 382-6855 or contact us online today to schedule a complimentary consultation.