What Is Periodontal Disease?
Any swelling, bleeding, redness, or abnormal pain in your gums is a form of periodontal (gum) disease. But it’s not enough just to recognize if there’s a gum problem of some some: there are two very different stages of periodontal disease that need to be distinguished as well.
Gingivitis is first-stage gum disease. It consists in inflammation of your gum tissue, heightened gum-tissue sensitivity, and gums that easily bleed while brushing your teeth. It may also include a recession of your gum line. Gingivitis is the easiest form of gum disease to reverse, especially if it’s caught early.
Periodontitis is the term for more advanced periodontal disease. At this stage, there may be white puss and frequent bleeding, plus deep bacteria pockets buried in your gum tissue. At its most advanced stage, periodontitis can eat away jawbone tissue, loosen teeth, and lead to tooth loss.
What Can Periodontal Disease Lead To?
Besides the excessive deterioration of your gum tissue itself, periodontal disease can also expose tooth roots, increasing the risk of cavities and root canals. And, as mentioned above, it can even cause tooth loss in its most extreme stages.
Additionally, gum disease can indirectly lead to a host of other problems Bacteria from infected gums can spread and cause inflammation in other parts of your body. It may lower your immune health and expose you to all manner of illnesses. And it can increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes, preterm birth, certain forms of cancer, and more. Recently discovered links to pneumonia have led to patients in some New York hospitals being given toothbrushes and asked to brush daily and especially 20 minutes before a surgery. This has led to a reduction of over 70% in pneumonia infections in the hospital. Pneumonia has been the leading side infection to hospital stays. More on this topic will become available.
What Causes Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is caused by the same thing that causes cavities — bacterial plaque. When food particles and sugary films are allowed to sit on your teeth and gums, bacteria will find this “source of food” and found bacterial colonies that will fester and harm your gum tissue.
Smoking tobacco products is another cause of gum disease. Smoking increases and speeds up plaque formation and accompanying bacterial infections. Plus, smoking also reduces the oxygen-content of your blood, which slows down the natural healing process for your gums.
Genetic factors, consumption of alcohol, a high-sugar diet, and a deficiency of important nutrients can also increase your chances of getting gum disease. But the single most common cause by far is simply poor oral hygiene habits at home and neglect of annual dental/periodontal appointments.
What Cures Periodontal Disease?
Technically, you can’t “cure” gum disease, but only prevent, reverse, and manage it.
There are many periodontal treatment methods, ranging from root planing and scaling to soft tissue graft or gum flap surgery to pinhole surgical grafts or LANAP laser periodontal treatment.
Each of these treatments is suitable to different stages of gum disease and different situations patients may be in, so you have to discuss details with your periodontist.
Also, if you have lost teeth due to periodontal disease, dental implants can replace them.
To learn more about periodontal disease and its treatments, contact periodontist Dr. Raymond A. Kenzik in Ormond Beach, FL, today!