Periodontal disease is one that hits your gums. It’s serious and the infection which is brought about by a buildup of plaque and bacteria on your teeth, can affect many areas of your health besides your oral hygiene.
What Exactly Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease doesn’t happen in one fell swoop – there are stages to it. The first one is gingivitis, which if not caught and treated swiftly, can quickly morph into the second stage – periodontal disease. Patients can lose their teeth very fast and then see gaps in their smile due to their teeth moving from the empty spaces. Also, people can lose jaw mass due to this.
This is not a disease that strikes one type of person – anyone who doesn’t have plaque cleaned off their teeth by regularly brushing and flossing their teeth is susceptible to getting periodontal disease. That plaque will turn to tartar, which only a dentist can take off. If one allows this tartar to continue unabated, their gums will become inflamed and then that’s when the infections can take hold below the gum line. As a result, with continued negligence, their teeth and gums will separate – which then create opportunities for pockets that can become full of pus. If those pockets get deeper, then one is looking at destroyed gum tissue and loose teeth.
What makes periodontal disease tough to pinpoint and immediately diagnose is that it’s not something that becomes immediately obvious but rather lurking in the background. Fortunately, if people have regular dental check-ups, it can almost always be detected at an early stage, which will increase the chances of successful treatment.
What Causes Gum Disease?
While plaque is the main culprit in gum disease, there are other factors to consider:
Gum disease can be genetic. There are people who are predisposed to getting periodontal disease because of their relatives.
There are illnesses that can weaken immune systems and open the door to gum disease. Patients with cancer or HIV can have unhealthy gums… diabetics are also possibly prone to periodontal disease.
Some forms of medication can have side effects that include dry mouth, which can then lead to periodontal disease.
People who have hormonal changes, particularly pregnant women, can be more susceptible to gum disease. Their menstrual cycle and even menopause can leave them open to periodontal disease.
Bad habits like neglecting dental routines, smoking or grinding teeth can also lead to gum disease.
What Are The Symptoms of Gum Disease?
Gum disease can be symptomless at first – that’s what makes it tricky to diagnose. There are some signs to look out for that may show that something is awry with your oral health. Periodontal disease may not be the culprit, but if any of these present themselves, a dental visit is in order to find out the cause:
If one’s gums are bleeding while brushing their teeth or afterwards
If one has red gums
If one has tender or swollen gums
If they have receding gums
If their breath is bad
If they have loose teeth
If their teeth have spaces between them
If it is uncomfortable to bite
If their gums feel itchy
It’s up to a trained dentist to be able to spot periodontal disease and assess what stage it is. After that, they can figure out the correct treatment plan, if need be. When you go for an exam, the dentist will take note of one’s gum color and check to see if they are bleeding, firm, or swollen. They will also check for pockets or any build-up. They will take X-rays if need be. This may sound like excessive caution but this is a serious matter that needs to be monitored every single visit.
How Is Gum Disease Treated?
When it comes to treating gum disease, the first option is scaling and root planing. People who diligently brush and floss can still get some plaque, which will get harder and turn to tartar. A dentist or hygienist will use ultrasound vibrations or a scaler to get the tartar off the tooth.
After that, the tooth, which can become a bit ragged with the stubborn tartar hanging onm is smoothed over with something called root planing. Besides smoothing over a tooth, it can help reattach healthy gums to teeth and stop periodontal disease from progressing and start the healing process. One may need to have this sort of treatment more often to make sure that the gum disease has not returned or become worse.
The scaling and root planing begin the healing process. From there, your dentist will recommend the best course of continued treatment, which can often be more frequent periodontal cleanings to monitor and maintain the health of your gums and teeth. If healing has not commenced, further special treatment will be needed.
What Happens If Gum Disease Goes Untreated?
If one has periodontal disease, it’s not something that one can cross their fingers and hope for the best. If it is ignored, it will get worse… not better and there is the real risk of losing the use of some teeth either from their being painful or loose. That can make the person’s diet suffer greatly too, since certain foods will be avoided. Add the fact that bad bacteria can make its way into saliva and the inflammation can also play a part in one’s risk of heart disease or stroke and this is not a matter to bury one’s head in the sand about.
The worst-case scenario is the loss of teeth and surgical treatment to halt the gum disease. If you are worried about the state of your teeth and you live in the Jacksonville, Florida area, make an appointment to see Dr. Shaista Najmi at Ivory Dental.
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