Periodontal disease is a common dental ailment that affects one out of every two American adults aged 30 and over. It is so prevalent that it is, in fact, the leading cause of tooth loss in adults in the developed world. But the threat is to more than just your teeth, periodontal disease has also been linked to Alzheimer’s Disease, rheumatoid arthritis, pancreatic cancer, diabetes, stroke, heart disease and more! You may be wondering, “How do I know if I’m developing periodontitis?” You might be surprised to learn you are already experiencing a few of the signs of gum disease. Dr. Mark Sowell of Sensational Smiles in Plano, TX 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 Signs of 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 that isn’t removed by brushing and flossing hardens and forms 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 that allow more bacteria to settle in.
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, but teeth are still firmly planted in sockets. If left untreated, gum inflammation can lead to gum disease.
Periodontal disease is when the destruction has reached the underlying bone. The pockets created by gum inflammation deepen and more gum tissue and bone are affected. 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 bad taste in the mouth.
- New spaces develop between your teeth.
When You Should 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 can also have a positive effect on your overall health.
Dr. Sowell in Plano, TX wants to help you prevent, diagnose, and treat periodontal disease. Regular cleanings and check-ups combined with minimally invasive treatments will protect your teeth and gums from periodontal disease for years to come. 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.