Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is a bacterial infection that destroys the gum tissue and supporting bones around the teeth. Left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss. In adults, tooth loss is a cause of gum disease, which is generally caused by plaque, a sticky, colorless film. Plaque contains bacteria and toxins that can infect your teeth and gums, if not removed by daily brushing and flossing. Periodontal disease can also affect your entire body and contribute to your risk of contracting Alzheimer's disease and other health conditions.
Types of Gum Disease
Gum disease consists of two types; gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is the initial stage of gum disease, which is the inflammation of the tissues surrounding and holding your teeth. It can lead to red and swollen gums and tissue. Periodontitis is a severe form of gum disease, which starts spreading from your gums and damages the tissue and the bones that hold your teeth. Gingivitis usually leads up to periodontitis if left untreated. Richmond VA Dental Arts can help to reduce the risk for these issues with different periodontal treatment options.
Causes of Gum Disease
The food that we eat contains starches and sugars that interact with the bacteria in your mouth. These bacteria form plaque on your teeth. Daily brushing and flossing removes the plaque, but it can reform quickly. Plaque that is not removed by brushing and flossing can harden and become tartar on your teeth. The longer the tartar stays on your teeth, the more damage and decay they can cause you.
There are some common risk factors for gum disease. These include: poor oral hygiene, smoking or chewing tobacco, certain medications, hormonal changes, genetic susceptibility, diabetes, diseases such as cancer, and poor nutrition.
Symptoms of Gum Disease
Gum disease is most common among adults, even though it can happen at any age. Gingivitis is not always easy to identify as it may not show any noticeable symptoms. However, it may advance to a stage, which is periodontitis, where the symptoms become severe and noticeable.
The symptoms that make you a candidate for gum disease are red, tender and swollen gums, bleeding gums, bad breath that does not go away, pus between your teeth and gums, gums that have pulled away from your teeth, a persistent bitter taste in your mouth, loose teeth, and a shift in how your teeth fit together.
There are other health problems associated with poor oral health and can affect the rest of your body:
• Increased chance of stroke
• Respiratory infections caused by inhaling oral bacteria
• Heart disease caused by bacteria in your blood
• Severe osteoporosis (bone loss) especially in post-menopausal women
• Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to overgrowth of bacteria
• Preterm or low birthweight babies can be affected by the oral bacteria that is present
Gum Disease Results in Tooth Loss
Periodontal (gum) disease is the main reason adults lose their teeth. It is a preventable disease. Just because you get older doesn't mean you have to lose your teeth. Once plaque, which is bacteria and mucus, sticks on your teeth long enough, plaque changes to tartar. Calculus must be removed by a dentist or dental hygienist. Brushing with an electric toothbrush makes doing a good job easier. You need to brush two times per day for at least two minutes during each brushing. The average time that most people brush is only 15 seconds! Either flossing or using the Water-Pik water flosser removes the plaque in between your teeth. When you are not flossing, you leave 20% of the plaque behind. Rinsing with Listerine or another similar mouthwash afterwards helps to kill the remaining bacteria. You need to rinse for 30 seconds and use two teaspoons of mouthwash for it to be most effective.
Treatment for Gum Disease
If periodontal disease is not treated you will lose bone and connective tissue around your teeth and eventually lose your teeth. Tooth loss usually starts with teeth in the back, then lower front teeth, and then the upper front teeth. Teeth that do not fall out on their own will require tooth extraction in order to be properly removed. Do not try to pull your teeth out on your own, as this can lead to further infection.
Gum disease is progressive and occurs in the oral cavity when the build-up of dangerous bacteria becomes too great. There are multiple stages to the disease, although once it advances beyond the stage of gingivitis, it cannot be cured. There are both surgical and non-surgical treatments available.
Typically, in the earliest stages of gum disease, non-surgical treatments will be recommended. One such treatment is a course of antibiotics. Since periodontal disease is bacterial, it can provide relief. Many times, antibiotics are used in concert with other available non-surgical treatments to be even more effective. They can be used in combination with scaling and root planing which are two other non-surgical procedures. They are utilized to remove bacteria, tartar, or plaque above the gum line and below.
Surgical Treatment Options
In those cases where the disease has advanced beyond the earlier stages and the non-surgical options have been exhausted, surgical options will need to be considered. One such surgical option is known as flap surgery. This is employed to reduce the pocket size along with the gum tissue. This is done by making an incision in the gum tissue to expose the roots of the teeth so they can be planed and scraped more effectively. Gum grafting can also be utilized to combat the condition known as receding gums. If the gum disease has weakened the underlying bone structure, bone grafts can also be employed to rebuild it. Patients are rightly nervous about having periodontal disease. It will be with them their entire lives requiring diligence in providing proper oral care and to schedule frequent periodontal maintenance appointments at our offices.
If you are worried you may have periodontal disease, please contact Richmond VA Dental Arts today at Richmond VA Dental Arts to talk about the options and schedule an evaluation for you.