Periodontal disease, more informally known as “gum disease,” is a common illness with adult Americans. Millions of people have this disease with many more having successfully treated it before serious damage was done. Gum disease affects the soft tissue and bone that supports your teeth and can, in the worst cases, lead to tooth loss. Let’s take a look at the symptoms of gum diseases, it causes and the solutions that can be realized by effective treatment.
Gum disease is not a singular illness, rather it can be defined as two illnesses: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is, according to the American Academy of Periodontology, a milder form of gum disease that causes gums to turn red, swollen, and bleed easily. You may not know that you have it as very little discomfort, if any, can be noticed. The cause of gingivitis is usually inadequate oral hygiene, with professional treatment and personal oral care offering a remedy.
Treating gingivitis is important as left untreated it can lead to worse problems, to a condition known as periodontitis. Periodontitis is what happens when gingivitis is left untreated as plaque gradually begins to spread and grow beneath your gum line. Every human has mouth bacteria and that bacteria produces plaque containing toxins. Bit by bit, your gums and teeth erode and, if left untreated, are destroyed. Teeth will eventually work loose and will have to be removed.
Symptoms and Treatments
Symptoms of gum disease can range from the mild to the obvious, with sensitive teeth being one indication of an emerging problem. Bleeding gums, pervasive bad breath, pain while chewing, and gums that recede and give the appearance of longer teeth are among the other signs of trouble. Your medical history may contribute to gum disease and if you smoke your chances of having dental problems are greater.
As with many diseases there are various forms of periodontitis that can take place. Aggressive periodontitis is characterized by bone destruction and rapid teeth attachment loss. Chronic periodontitis is the most common and includes gum inflammation and mild bone loss. Plaque tartar leads to the development of a pocket between the gum and teeth along with a retreating bone level. Necrotizing periodontal disease represents an infection that features lesions and may be caused by malnutrition.
People with HIV or an immunosuppression disorder are also susceptible. Other diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and respiratory disease can also contribute to periodontitis. Girls and women with hormonal changes are also susceptible and certain medications can reduce the flow of saliva and, therefore, hasten gum disease. Genetic factors may also play in.
What will your dentist do to help fight gum disease? First, he will likely take x-rays to determine whether you’ve already experienced bone loss. If you have gingivitis, your disease can be handled by your dentist and treated through an extensive cleaning and scraping away of plaque build up. Second, if the condition is more advanced, your dentist may refer you to a periodontist. This professional is skilled in all matters of oral health with a speciality in combatting gum diseases. Typically, you will receive a referral if your condition is beyond the treatment options offered by your dentist.
You can thwart gum disease by visiting your dentist twice annually for checkups. Regularly scheduled visits can identify and address gum problems with your dentist working with you to resolve the problem. Regular brushing and flossing is essential too, the part that you can do to fight periodontitis and save your handsome smile.
National Institutes of Health: Periodontal (Gum) Disease: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments –http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/OralHealth/Topics/GumDiseases/
American Academy of Periodontology: Types of Gum Disease — http://www.perio.org/consumer/2a.html