Periodontal disease is an infection that affects your teeth’s supporting bone and tissues. Gum disease is another name for this condition.
Your gum tissues are able to support each of your teeth when they are healthy. Your gums will pull away from your teeth if you have periodontal disease (gum disease), and they may become puffy, red, and inflamed. The tissues and bones that support your teeth might be compromised as gum disease progresses.
Over time, your teeth may need to be removed. Making it vital to treat periodontal disease in the early stages to prevent any tooth loss.
Warning Signs of Periodontal Disease
According to the ADA here are the top signs:
- Gums that bleed when you brush or floss
- Gums that are swollen, red, puffy, or tender
- Bad breath or bad taste in your mouth that doesn’t go away
- Increasing spaces between your teeth
- Feeling that your teeth are loose
- A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- A change in the way your partial dentures fit
You might notice one or more of these warning signs, or you might not see any at all. This is why it’s critical to visit your dentist on a frequent basis. When gum disease is detected early, it is easier to treat.
Causes of Periodontal Disease
Plaque is a sticky coating that forms on your teeth over time. Bacteria in plaque can cause your gums to become red, puffy, and swollen. Plaque can solidify if it is left on your teeth and gums. Tartar is the term for hardened plaque. You will find it difficult to maintain your teeth and gums clean on your own if you have tartar on your teeth.
Your gums may begin to peel away from your teeth if they are red, puffy, or inflamed. Between your gums and teeth, a space known as a pocket begins to form. These pockets provide a space for bacteria to congregate and flourish. Your gum disease will worsen as a result of the bacteria in your pockets.
Checking for Periodontal Disease
Your dentist or hygienist uses a periodontal probe to gently assess the depth of the pockets surrounding each of your teeth when screening for periodontal disease. The pocket depth should be 3 mm or less when your teeth are healthy. The deeper the pocket, the more serious the disease. This indicates a more advanced loss of bone connection, giving germs more room to grow and cause catastrophic damage to your gums and bone, causing your teeth to loosen.
Dental x-rays can determine how much bone supports your teeth. If you notice low bone levels, it could be a symptom of gum disease damage.
Am I at Risk?
Anyone can get periodontal disease. There are few factors that can increase your risk of getting periodontal disease:
- Not taking care of your teeth and gums. Be sure to brush 2 times a day, everyday and for 2 minutes each time. Clean between your teeth every day with products designed for this purpose.
- Using tobacco of any kind. You are more likely to have gum disease if you smoke, chew or dip tobacco.
- Many medications, such as steroids and blood pressure drugs, can affect your gums.
- Pregnancy, use of birth control pills or changes in female hormone levels. These can increase your risk of gingivitis and may cause your gums to swell and bleed.
- Family history. If you have a family history of tooth loss, be aware and pay close attention to changes in your gums.
Treating Periodontal Disease
A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in the treatment of gum disease. Your dentist may recommend you to one.
If you catch gum disease early enough (when it’s still gingivitis), all you’ll need is a professional cleaning and better oral hygiene at home. Your dentist can also provide you tips on how to improve your oral hygiene on a daily basis.
A professional cleaning will not be enough if your gum disease is severe. Usually a special deep cleaning, scaling and root planing, is required.