Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is a leading cause of poor oral health and tooth loss in adults of all ages. Untreated periodontal disease doesn’t just harm your gum tissue either. It can also wreak havoc on your teeth, your jawbone structure, and even your general health.
Here are 10 important facts you should know about periodontal disease.
Gum disease can happen at any age, even in early childhood, but statistics show that adults over the age of 30 are much more likely to develop it. Almost half of adults over the age of 30 have some level of gum disease, with this number growing to 70% for adults age 65 and older.
Periodontal disease begins as gingivitis, a state of chronic gum inflammation. As the inflammation persists, gingivitis evolves into mild periodontitis, a state in which the gum pockets become swollen and trap bacteria. Once infection sets in, the condition has advanced into moderate periodontitis. As the infection begins to erode gum tissue and loosen the teeth, the condition is considered severe periodontitis
Many expecting mothers aren’t aware of “pregnancy gingivitis.” Pregnancy gingivitis is a term used to describe gingivitis that occurs due to hormonal changes in the body. Although this type of gingivitis usually stops after pregnancy, it’s important to be extra vigilant in caring for your smile during this time to prevent periodontitis from developing.
Gum disease symptoms can be surprisingly subtle, which is why many people don’t realize anything’s wrong until diagnosed by a dentist. Symptoms like light bleeding from the gum when flossing, tenderness when flossing or brushing, and bad breath despite proper oral hygiene are a few examples of subtle signs that should be evaluated by your dentist.
Pain is a surefire sign that something is wrong, whether it’s a sore ankle or a nasty toothache. Unfortunately, pain doesn’t always show itself during the early stages of gum disease. Remember, even if your gums feel fine, you could very well have periodontitis if you do have the symptoms mentioned above.
Periodontal therapy is a system of treatment used for gingivitis and all stages of periodontitis. The foundation of periodontal therapy is a special deep-cleaning technique called scaling and root planing. This process is similar to a routine cleaning during a biannual checkup but goes deeper into the gum pocket to remove bacteria and infected tissue.
Although most cases of periodontal disease can be treated non-surgically, if severe periodontitis has damaged gum tissue and the jawbone, chances are oral surgery will be necessary. Your dentist may need to surgically remove infected tissue, extract teeth that have become loosened, or correct a receded gum line after the infection has been treated.
The reason seeking treatment for periodontitis is so important is because it can cause permanent damage to your smile. Infection in the gums can eat away at gum tissue, cause teeth to become loose or even fall out, and eventually work down to the jawbone. The good news is that this damage can be repaired through restorative dentistry after the infection is treated.
Having periodontitis once doesn’t automatically mean you’ll develop it again, but it does mean you’re at a higher risk for recurrence. It’s vital that, after recovering from periodontitis, you continue to follow your dentist’s recommendations for maintaining your oral health. This typically includes a thorough at-home oral hygiene routine and more frequent checkups every few months.
Your oral health is directly connected to your overall health. Because the mouth is a very vascular area of the body, oral infections and inflammation can cause further inflammation throughout the body. Most notably, bacteria can enter the bloodstream and travel to the heart, doubling or even tripling your risks of developing heart disease.
The key to recognizing, treating, and preventing all stages of periodontal disease is to choose a dentist that prioritizes gum health.
The team at First Dental Associates is experienced in diagnosing and effectively treating even the most severe cases of periodontitis. From providing gentle but thorough periodontal therapy to restoring your smile after periodontitis-related tooth loss, we’ll be by your side throughout the entire process.
If you suspect your gums are unhealthy or you want to learn more about periodontal disease prevention, you can schedule an appointment today by calling our Reading, MA, office or requesting one online.