Gum disease, also known as periodontitis, is a disease caused by a serious gum infection that destroys the bone supporting your teeth and the soft tissues in your mouth. Periodontitis can result in tooth loss, or even an increased risk for heart attack, diabetes and stroke.
In individuals with gum disease, their bone and inner layer of gums pull away from their teeth and form pockets. These pockets collect fragments of waste and can become infected. Even though your immune system fights the bacteria, plaque continue to spread and grow beneath your gum line. The bacteria in plaque start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold your teeth in place.
If untreated, this progresses and the pockets deepen, resulting in the destruction of even more bone and gum tissue. Your teeth are no longer anchored in place, causing tooth loss. Therefore, gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss among adults.
Symptoms of Periodontitis
Healthy gums appear pale pink in color and are firm. If you notice any of the following symptoms of gum disease schedule a visit to your general dentist. The sooner you seek care for this disease, the better your chances are of reversing the damage caused from gum disease, and can potentially prevent other serious health problems from arising.
- Gums that feel tender to the touch
- Swollen gums
- Gums appearing purplish or bright red
- Receding gums (gums that pull away from teeth)
- Loose teeth
- Development of new spaces between your teeth and gums
- Pus between your teeth and gums
- Bad taste in your mouth or bad breath
- Change in how your teeth fit together when biting
Causes of Periodontitis
Plaque build-up is the primary cause of gum disease. However, the following factors can also contribute to this condition:
- Certain diseases or conditions
- Certain medications
- Poor oral hygiene
- Hormonal changes
- Family history of dental disease
- Crowned or misaligned teeth, bridgework or braces (makes proper brushing and flossing difficult)
- Stress, as it weakens your immune system
- Poor nutrition
Prevention of Periodontitis
For optimal oral health, it is necessary to prevent gum disease. As this condition is caused by bacteria in dental plaque, you can prevent this disease by visiting your general dentist regularly and by practicing good oral care in between visits. You should have a professional exam and cleaning done about once every six months, or more if you already have gum disease.
It is recommended to brush teeth twice a day and floss between teeth daily. If this is done correctly, it helps to remove most of the plaque from your teeth. The remaining plaque, in those hard to reach places, will be kept under control by professional dental cleanings. If you’re unaware of the proper technique for brushing, your general dentist can give you guidance.
Plaque also needs to be removed regularly because it becomes hardened over time, turning into calculus. Calculus is also known as tartar. As calculus has a rougher surface than the enamel of your teeth, greater amounts of plaque attach there, leaving tartar and plaque to build up in layers. To help control the build-up of calculus around your teeth, you can use a tartar-control toothpaste. However, it doesn’t affect any tartar that has already formed beneath your gum line.
If you are concerned about gum disease or have noticed symptoms associated with this disease, don’t delay and call our local dentist office to schedule an appointment today.