Over half of American adults suffer from periodontal disease, also commonly called gum disease. In fact, periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults in the developed world and is linked to several other health problems such as Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, stroke, diabetes, pancreatic cancer, and more. You may be surprised to learn you already have signs of periodontal disease, so learn how to spot them and prevent future problems.
What Is Periodontal Disease?
The word periodontal means “around the tooth,” and periodontal disease refers to disease of the gum tissues that surround the teeth. It is also called periodontitis or simply gum disease, and it begins as an infection of the gums around the teeth and can progress to the jawbone that anchors the teeth in place. If left untreated, gum disease can result in tooth loss.
Causes of Periodontal Disease
Naturally-occurring oral bacteria bond with mucus and leftover food particles, forming plaque on teeth. The plaque that isn’t removed by brushing and flossing hardens and forms tartar on the teeth, which cannot be removed just with brushing or flossing.
Tartar erodes the hard outer layer of the teeth, called enamel. This exposes sensitive tissues inside the teeth and opens the gums up to further infection and sensitivity or pain.
Some factors make someone more likely to experience periodontal disease:
- Hormonal changes
- Smoking/tobacco use
- Clenching or grinding teeth
- Poor nutrition or eating a high-sugar diet
- Certain illnesses such as diabetes
Stages Of Periodontal Disease
The first stage of gum disease is gingivitis, which is when the gums become inflamed without loss of bone. It is a mild and reversible form of periodontitis, but gingivitis itself is not always a sign of periodontitis. That being said, it is still possible for gingivitis to lead to gum disease if left untreated.
Periodontal disease is diagnosed when the infection has reached the underlying bone. Gums become so inflamed that pockets open up and teeth are no longer firmly planted in place, opening the mouth up to further bacterial infection. Eventually, teeth become loose and fall out.
What Are the Symptoms of Periodontal Disease?
Symptoms of periodontal disease range from bleeding gums to teeth visibly moving around in the mouth. Some signs to look out for:
- 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 You Should See a Dentist
Many people don’t even know they have periodontal disease. This is why regular dental visits are important, because it allows the dentist the opportunity to examine the jaw bone and make sure it is intact. Taking care of early signs will help prevent tooth loss and further damage to your health.
Dr. Nelson Kanning is a Lawson, MO who can help prevent, diagnose, and treat periodontal disease. Regular dental checkups, cleanings, and minimally-invasive treatments will protect your teeth and gums for years to come. Contact us online to schedule an appointment or call (816) 580-4191 today.