What is Periodontal Disease? Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is a bacterial infection of the gums, bones, and ligaments in the mouth. If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to serious complications. Millions of American adults will be affected by periodontal disease at some point during their lifetimes, but many will never even realize they have it.
Are there different types of Periodontal Disease?
Yes. In its mildest form, periodontal disease is called gingivitis. When gingivitis is left untreated, it can become periodontitis. Periodontitis occurs when plaque begins to grow below the gum line, causing toxins and bacteria to irritate the gums. When this happens, the body reacts by breaking down and destroying the tissues and bone in attempt to eradicate the toxins. Pockets develop between the teeth and the gums that often become infected, and more gum tissue and bone is damaged.
What are the symptoms of Periodontal Disease?
In its earliest stages, periodontal disease does not exhibit many outward symptoms, causing its development to often go unnoticed. Patients with gingivitis have reddened, swollen gums that bleed easily. Many times, there is no physical discomfort associated with these symptoms.
In its advanced stages, symptoms of periodontal disease include:
- Red, swollen, and tender gums that bleed when you brush your teeth
- Persistent bad breath
- Gums that have pulled away, or receded, from the teeth
- Loose teeth
- Puss between the gums and teeth
- A shift in jaw alignment
What causes Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is most often the result of inadequate oral hygiene. The build up of plaque – the film that sticks to your teeth – leads to bacteria that can cause your gums to become irritated and infected. As the condition worsens, it can lead to periodontitis, which can result in tooth loss and other serious health problems.
What are the risks associated with Periodontal Disease?
Experts have identified a link between periodontal disease and heart disease. In fact, research indicates that individuals with periodontal disease are nearly twice as likely to develop coronary artery disease. Since periodontal disease is a bacterial infection, the bacterium that causes periodontal disease can enter the bloodstream. If this happens, new infections can develop in other vital organs, including the heart. In addition to raising one’s risk of developing heart disease, periodontal disease is also believed to be linked to respiratory diseases, diabetes, and osteoporosis.
What is the treatment for Periodontal Disease?
In its early stages, periodontal disease is reversible with professional treatment and good oral care. Since there are often no outward symptoms of periodontal disease in its early stages, it is very important that you have regular dental hygiene check-ups.
Our comprensive dental practice in Houston can determine if you are at risk for periodontal disease and begin necessary periodontal disease treatments. Treatments for periodontal disease will vary by patient but may include having pocket eliminating surgery or scaling and root planing.