Periodontal disease, more commonly known as gum disease, is an infection of the gums that surround your teeth. It is virtually pain-free and therefore is a top reason for tooth loss in adult patients. In order to help prevent this from happening, your dentist will check for signs of gum disease by measuring the space between your gums and teeth during your regular checkup.
What can cause gum disease?
Plaque (a sticky deposit on teeth where bacteria multiplies), is what causes periodontal disease. When the plaque is not removed (flossing, brushing, and regular checkups) it continues to grow and build up. When the plaque builds up it can create toxins that target and damage the gums. Gum disease has two stages: gingivitis and periodontitis.
- Gingivitis – This is the first stage of gum disease. Some symptoms will be enflamed and swollen gums, and your gums will easily bleed. This stage is easily treatable and can usually be taken care of simply by brushing and flossing daily.
- Periodontitis – When gingivitus is left untreated it will generaly advance into periodontitus. The gums and bone that support your teeth will become permanently damged. Gums that become infected by periodontitus will become weak and cause teeth to fall out easily.
There are some factors that increase a patient’s risk of developing gum disease, including:
- Cigarettes or chewing tobacco
- Using steroids, anti-epilepsy medicine, cancer therapy medication, calcium channel blockers, and oral contraceptives, and some other medicines
- Dental equipment that no logner fit such as bridges
- Crooked teeth
- Old fillings
Symptoms can include:
- Gums bleed easily
- Swollen and tender gums
- Gums pulling away from the teeth
- Bad breath or bad taste that persists
- Pus in between gums
- Adult teeth that become loose or start seperating
- Any change in your bite
- Change in the fit of partial dentures
Treating Periodontal Disease
Depending on the severity of each case treatment for gum disease can include:
- At-home periodontal trays, and deep cleaning (scaling and root planing)
- Laser gum surgery and periodontal surgery
- Dental Implants