Periodontal disease is a common dental ailment. Studies show that one out of every two American adults aged 30 and over suffers from gum disease. That’s nothing to scoff at. In fact, periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss for adults in the developed world. But the stakes are higher than just a nice set of teeth, periodontal disease has also been linked to Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis, pancreatic cancer, diabetes, stroke, heart disease and more! “What are some periodontal disease symptoms?”, you may be wondering. “Do I have gum disease?” You may be surprised.
What Is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal is a Greek word meaning “around the tooth.” Periodontal disease, also called periodontitis or gum disease, affects the tissues that surround the teeth and the jawbone that anchors those teeth in place. It begins with bacteria living in your mouth, and, if untreated, it can end with tooth loss.
Causes of Periodontal Disease
The main cause of periodontal disease is leaving the bacteria in plaque untreated. This bacteria bonds with mucus and other particles to form plaque, a sticky but clear substance, on teeth. The plaque that isn’t removed by brushing and flossing hardens and forms a build-up called tartar.
To rid itself of the bacteria, our immune systems release defensive cells that cause areas around the teeth to become inflamed. As our gums swell, they draw away from the teeth creating pockets for more bacteria to settle in.
Other factors that increase your risk of periodontal disease include:
- Smoking/tobacco use
- Hormonal changes (puberty, pregnancy, or menopause)
- Certain illnesses
- Poor nutrition
- Clenching or grinding teeth
Stages Of Periodontal Disease
Gingivitis is the beginning. At this point the gums are inflamed but without loss of bone. This is a mild and reversible form of periodontitis and not all gingivitis progresses to full-on periodontitis. When plaque builds up on teeth and gums, the gums become inflamed, but teeth are still firmly planted in sockets at the point. If left untreated, gum inflammation can lead to periodontal disease, where the destruction reaches the underlying bone. As the illness progresses, pockets created by gum inflammation deepen and more gum tissue and bone are affected. Eventually, due to loss of support in the gums and jawbone, the teeth can become loose and fall out.
What Are the Symptoms of Periodontal Disease?
- Gums that bleed easily while brushing and flossing.
- Swollen or tender gums.
- Gums that pull away from teeth.
- Changes in bite structure.
- Deep pockets between teeth and gums.
- Loose or shifting teeth.
- Pus between your teeth and gums.
- Persistent bad breath or bad taste in the mouth.
- New spaces developing between your teeth.
When You Should See a Dentist
Periodontal disease can be painless so many people aren’t even aware they have it. A periodontal evaluation with x-rays is the best way to diagnose gum disease. Having your periodontal disease treated now not only improves the health of your mouth but may also have a have a positive effect on the health of your entire body.
Dr. James Lassiter of Lassiter Family Dentistry in Kingsland GA wants to help you prevent, diagnose, and treat periodontal disease. Scheduling regular cleanings and check-ups will protect your teeth and gums from periodontal disease for years to come. Your bleeding gums may be an indicator of periodontal disease. Don’t wait to find out! Contact us online today to schedule an appointment or call 912-208-2565.