Periodontal disease is a technical term denoting an infection and inflammation of the gum tissues. Left untreated, it presents a significant danger to your mouth along with other medical conditions for your body.
Periodontal disease often results from an ineffective daily oral hygiene routine that doesn’t get rid of the residual food particles and plaque from your teeth. This allows bacteria-rich, hardened tartar to form at the gum line.
Early treatment can also allow for reversing the effects!
Early Warning Signs
Gingivitis is the earliest form of gum disease. Early symptoms include red and inflamed gums that bleed easily when you go to brush and floss. This usually also brings with it chronic bad breath.
Symptoms of Gum Disease
- Chronic bad breath
- Gums that are red or swollen
- Gums that bleed when you brush, floss or eat
- Gum tenderness
- Pain when you chew
- Loose teeth or a change in your bite pattern
- Sensitive teeth
- Gums that are pulling away from the teeth, making your teeth look long
Stages and Treatment of Gum Disease
When it comes to treating infection from gum disease, the goal is to control it. Treatments vary, depending on the stage of your gum disease. If gingivitis isn’t treated, it’ll gradually develop into the more advanced form of gum disease known as periodontitis. This level of infection and inflammation in the gum tissue cause your gums to pull back from the base of your teeth as the infection dives deep into the gum tissues and causes a loss of structure in the bones that support your teeth.
Gingivitis: When your gums are red and bleed easily, this stage can be reversed by diligent daily oral hygiene, along with your scheduled six-month dental visits to remove calcified plaque above the gumline.
Mild Periodontal Disease: At this stage, gingival pockets begin to form around the teeth. Scaling and root planing, along with maintenance visits every 3-4 months for professional cleaning and of course, your daily at-home oral hygiene routine gets rid of the tartar below the gum line.
Moderate Periodontal Disease: Dental X-rays during this stage can show us any bone loss and deep gum pockets around the teeth. Scaling and root planing and laser therapy can help.
Severe Periodontal Disease: Other than ongoing scaling and root planing to slow down the disease, if you have bone loss and 6mm deep pockets, your tooth will loosen and fall out or require tooth extraction and dental implants to replace any lost teeth.
Negative Long-Term Effects
Systemic inflammation has a long-term negative effect on your immune system. Research shows that your periodontal disease is linked to other medical conditions like diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Even though the periodontal disease isn’t the underlying cause of these conditions, it can still complicate your treatment options.
Periodontal Disease Related to Medical Conditions
Inflammation: Since harmful bacteria and inflammation is linked to gum disease, treating inflammation can help control periodontal disease.
Diabetes: Patients with diabetes are more susceptible to gum disease which raises their blood sugar and causes complications that make them more vulnerable to infection. Periodontal disease is actually one of the complications of uncontrolled diabetes, and periodontal disease also makes it harder to control blood sugar in diabetics.
Stroke: There are links between periodontal disease and the risk for stroke as related to oral infections.
Obesity: There’s a risk of gum disease with those who struggle with obesity, possibly because of insulin resistance that regulates the relationship between the two diseases, and the even higher levels of inflammatory proteins produced in people who are obese.
Osteoporosis: Osteoporosis and jaw bone loss is also a thing. Because it diminishes your jaw bone density, osteoporosis can leave you with loose (or lost) teeth.
Respiratory Disease: Oral bacteria from periodontal disease can be aspirated into your lungs and leave you vulnerable to pneumonia.
Cancer: Men battling advanced gum disease are at greater risk of kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer and blood cancers.
Tobacco: Smokers are three to six times more vulnerable to advanced gum disease, and if you have gum disease, smoking can make it worse faster than it would if you didn’t smoke!
What You Can Do
Keep your teeth and gums healthy by ensuring that you have a proper home-care routine in place — which includes brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste to remove bacterial plaque. Don’t skip flossing if you want to prevent gum disease! Floss every day to get rid of the plaque trapped between teeth with a flossing tool you enjoy using. Many of our patients love using a dentist-recommended water flosser.
Eat a nutritious diet to keep your gums healthy, and don’t skip your scheduled dental visits with Dr. Powell and our team! It’s important that you get the type of teeth cleanings that are geared towards your individual needs, while also ensuring that you are coming in at the recommended times to see the hygienist (for you that may be more than twice a year). When you come in for your professional cleanings, we are helping keep that bad bacteria from becoming a systemic problem and we check for signs of early gum disease when it’s still reversible.
Oh, and although it goes without saying, we’re going to say it anyway — if you smoke, please GIVE IT UP! Your body and your smile will thank you!
If you have questions or concerns about gum disease, please call our Exceptional Dentistry team in Palmdale, California at 661.349.7725 to explore your treatment options. You can also reserve a time and day through our online reservation system. Remember, we’re always here to help you create a healthy, beautiful smile!