Periodontal disease, more commonly referred to as gum disease, is an oral health issue that affects your gums, your jawbone, your teeth, and even your whole-body health. Periodontal disease occurs when plaque and bacteria build up in your mouth, causing your gums to become irritated. The irritation triggers an inflammatory response, which then causes your gums to swell. Eventually, your gums recede, and your teeth become loose. You may even suffer tooth loss and serious health issues such as diabetes and heart disease. If you have developed periodontal disease, Harry Albers DDS can help.
What Causes Periodontal Disease?
One of the main causes of periodontal disease is poor oral hygiene. The ADA recommends brushing twice daily, flossing daily, and having your teeth professionally cleaned and examined twice a year. Ignoring your oral hygiene can lead to a buildup of plaque and bacteria in your mouth. These substances, then irritate your gums, which lead to inflammation.
There are several other issues that can lead to periodontal disease as well. Crooked teeth, making oral hygiene more difficult, providing hiding places for plaque and bacteria. Dry mouth, or xerostomia, provides an ideal environment for bacterial growth. Poor nutrition deprives your body of the nutrients it needs to help it effectively fight off infections. Hormonal changes can alter how your gums react to plaque and bacteria. You may also be at an increased risk for developing periodontal disease if you smoke or use other tobacco products. These products interfere with your immune system, which prevents your body from effectively fighting bacteria and infections.
The Progression of Periodontal Disease
When periodontal disease first begins, you might never even know anything is wrong. However, as your gums become irritated, they begin to swell. Over time, the swollen tissue begins to pull away from the teeth, leading to the formation of periodontal pockets. Bacteria, plaque, and other debris collect in the pockets, which grow deeper and deeper. Eventually, the bacteria reach the periodontal ligaments and jawbone. They begin to attack these supporting structures, causing them to weaken. Your teeth become loose and unstable. They may even fall out.
Symptoms of Periodontal Disease
The earliest symptoms of gum disease include redness and swelling. You may also notice that your gums bleed when you brush and floss. Unfortunately, these symptoms are often overlooked or ignored. They may be thought to be the result of brushing too hard.
As periodontal disease progresses, the symptoms become more significant. You may begin to notice that your gums are pulling away from your teeth. Your teeth may appear longer than normal as the gums begin to recede. Gum recession can result in the appearance of small spaces between your teeth and tooth sensitivity. You may develop chronic bad breath. As the bacteria begin to attack your periodontal ligaments and jawbone, you may also notice that your teeth become mobile and that your bite changes. You may also notice that you begin to lose your teeth.
Treatment for Periodontal Disease
There are several treatments for periodontal disease. One of the most common treatments is scaling and root planing. This is a deep cleaning of your teeth in which the visible surfaces, as well as the root surfaces of your teeth, are thoroughly cleaned. Other treatments for periodontal disease include periodontal maintenance, pocket reduction surgery, osseous surgery, and bone or soft tissue grafts.
Treating periodontal disease as soon as it is noticed is essential for stopping the progression of the disease and preventing serious consequences. For more information, and to schedule your appointment, call Harry Albers DDS today at (707) 575-1190.