Periodontal disease is a common dental condition that now affects one out of every two American adults aged 30 and over. That’s more than half of the adults in this country. In fact, periodontitis is the leading cause of lost teeth for adults in the developed world.
But there’s more than just your teeth at stake. Periodontal disease has also been linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, pancreatic cancer, diabetes, stroke, heart disease and more! You may be wondering, “What are some periodontal disease symptoms?” You might learn you’re already living with some of them.
What Is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal is a Greek word that means “around the tooth.” Periodontal disease — also known as periodontitis or gum disease — is when an infection of the gum tissues that surround the teeth threatens the the roots of your teeth and the jawbone that anchors the teeth in place. It begins with bacteria in your mouth and can end with tooth and bone loss.
Causes of Periodontal Disease
The main culprit behind periodontal disease is bacteria in plaque that is allowed to feed on tooth enamel and irritate gum tissues. The bacteria in our mouths bond with mucus and food residue to form plaque on our teeth. The plaque that isn’t removed by brushing and flossing hardens on teeth, mostly at the gum line and in between, and forms tartar.
To rid our bodies of the bacteria, our immune systems release defense cells that cause the gum tissues around the teeth to become inflamed. As our gums swell, they pull away from the teeth creating little pockets that allow even more bacteria to infect our gums.
Other factors that could lead to periodontitis include:
- Poor nutrition
- Smoking/tobacco use
- Hormonal changes (puberty, pregnancy, or menopause)
- Certain illnesses
- Clenching or grinding teeth
Stages Of Periodontal Disease
Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums before you begin to loose bone tissue from the jaw. This stage is mild and reversible and not all gingivitis progresses to periodontitis. Plaque may have built up on your teeth and your gums may have become inflamed, but teeth are still firmly planted in sockets. The inflammation of your gums can lead to full-fledged gum disease if not treated.
Periodontal disease is the stage when the destruction has reached the underlying bone. The pockets created by gum inflammation deepen and even more gum tissue and bone are affected. Eventually, the teeth can become loose and fall out from insufficient support.
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 the way teeth fit together upon biting down.
- 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 isn’t always painful; some people live with it every day and aren’t even aware they have it. A periodontal evaluation with x-rays is the best way to find and treat gum disease. If it’s been a while since you’ve been to the dentist, or if you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, see your dentist as soon as possible. Fighting back against periodontal disease now not only improves the health of your mouth but can also have a have a positive effect on your overall health as this illness has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease, among others.
Dr. Gotwalt in Lititz, PA wants to help you prevent, diagnose, and treat periodontal disease. Keeping routine cleanings and check-ups combined with having minimally invasive treatments when necessary will protect your teeth and gums from periodontal disease for years to come. Your bleeding gums might be a sign of periodontal disease. Don’t wait to find out! Contact us online today to schedule an appointment or call 717-220-4651.