Periodontal Disease is an infection around the bone and gums affecting the teeth and gums. This condition is often over looked because early and moderate stage symptoms are rarely experienced. Advanced stages of periodontal disease attacks the gums causing damage to the connective tissues that hold teeth in place. There are three stages of periodontal disease, but left untreated the result is usually tooth loss.
Periodontal’s actual meaning is ‘around the tooth’ and that is exactly where the disease attacks. Advanced periodontal disease is a serious bacterial infection affecting the tissues of the mouth and gums. Symptoms may include red, inflamed or even bleeding gums that pull away from the teeth. This is usually accompanied by bad breath. Other signs to be aware of are changes in tooth positioning when you bite and teeth that feel loose. In some cases, pus will appear between the teeth and an abscess may develop at the gum line.
Gingivitis is a mild inflammation to the gums caused by the buildup of plaque. This early stage is the most common form of periodontal disease. Although there is not discomfort associated with gingivitis, gums can become red and might even bleed easily when probed. When plaque is not removed from teeth the resulting mineralization becomes tarter, which is a breeding ground for bacteria.
The second stage is referred to as periodontitis. This is considered the point at which the buildup of plaque is hardening at the gum line which crates tarter. As the gums withdraw away from the tarter and the tooth, pockets form allowing bacteria to accumulate.
Once this occurs, the health of the mouth is at risk of permanent damage. Elevated bacteria level is a signal of advanced periodontitis, which is a major contributor to bone and tooth loss.
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While the main factor leading to periodontal disease is plaque buildup, there are other reasons that some people are at a greater risk.
Tobacco use is a contributor to many health problems, and the mouth is no different. The probability of this disease rises directly with the amount of tobacco used. Along with an increase in probability and severity of the disease, the body’s ability to respond to treatment is also greatly decreased from tobacco use. This combination makes tobacco use one of the most important risk factors associated with the disease.
Increased risks can also be associated with diabetics whose disease is poorly controlled. Diabetic conditions are greatly affected by bacterial infections like periodontal disease. The result can be an increased severity in the infections that occur. When diabetic conditions are properly controlled, treatment methods have much higher success results.
There is also information pointing to the fact that heredity factors and genetics play a role in the development of periodontal disease. Studies of younger patients have shown a clear genetic connection to certain forms of the disease. While genetic conditions cannot be changed, patients can protect themselves by modifying poor oral health behaviors.
Good oral hygiene is the first step in preventing periodontal disease. By making these easy and routine practices habit, patients can avoid periodontal disease all together.
It is as simple as brushing twice daily, flossing your teeth and having your teeth cleaned regularly at the dental office. Avoid foods filled with sugar, but if you must have those sweets, take time to brush afterward. Remember, the accumulation of debris from things that we eat and drink combined with the bacteria that naturally occurs in our mouths is what leads to plaque.
If you are concerned about the health of your teeth and gums, contact our office today to schedule your dental checkup and cleaning.