Most people have heard of gum disease (periodontitis) and are aware of the oral discomfort, tooth loss, and jawbone deterioration that can occur as a result of this condition. But not everyone is aware of the detrimental effect gum disease can have on the rest of your body. Experts have linked gum disease to a wide range of health issues, which is why it’s so important to treat it as quickly as possible.
Maintaining healthy gums is critical to maintaining a healthy life, which is why trusting a highly experienced periodontist to treat gum issues as soon as they arise is so important. The sooner you can treat gum disease, the less of an impact it will have on your health over time.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is a serious infection of the gums that most often occurs from poor dental hygiene and an excess of plaque and tartar build-up. When left untreated, gum disease can damage your teeth, jawbone, and ultimately lead to other serious health conditions. Common symptoms of gum disease include:
- Swollen or red gums
- Tender or sore gums
- Gums that bleed easily
- Tooth loss
- Change in bite or painful chewing
- Bad breath
Gum disease is easily prevented by good oral hygiene — brushing and flossing twice a day and regular dental cleanings can help you avoid most cases. However, once you develop gum disease, you’ll want to be sure to have it treated by a dentist or periodontist as quickly as possible. Mild to moderate cases can quickly evolve into more severe cases, and severe cases may require surgery.
How Do Gums Impact My Overall Health?
It’s common to associate gum disease with oral health, but its effects can actually extend far beyond the mouth. Gum disease has been linked to numerous health problems all over the body because it essentially enables infectious bacteria to easily enter the bloodstream. This can create a ripple effect of long-term health-related issues impacting the heart, brain, and nervous system. Below are some common conditions that can develop as a result of gum disease:
- Tooth Loss – The most common consequence of untreated gum disease is tooth loss. In fact, dentists estimate 75% of adult tooth loss is a result of periodontitis. When gums remain infected and inflamed for extended periods of time, they not only weaken but also can damage the surrounding jawbone that holds your teeth in place. As your gums and jawbone deteriorate, teeth lose support and can ultimately fall out.
- Heart Disease: Numerous studies have shown gum disease may increase the risk of heart disease. Some experts believe this may be due to the level of inflammation caused by periodontitis.
- Stroke: Studies have also shown that those who suffer from gum disease may be twice as likely to suffer from a stroke. Some scientists believe that inflamed gums can actually affect the way blood and oxygen make their way to the brain.
- Diabetes: Diabetics are more likely to develop gum disease due to increased risk of infection, but those with chronic, recurring gum disease are also more likely to develop diabetes. Gum disease can actually increase your blood sugar levels.
- Neurological Disorders: A large-scale study in 2020 found older adults with gum disease were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The study suggested the bacteria that cause gum disease are also associated with the development of multiple neurological conditions.
- Pregnancy Complications: Gum disease has been linked to pregnancy complications including premature labor and low birth rate. Keeping healthy gums is incredibly important when pregnant. It is very important for pregnant women to maintain good oral hygiene and see a periodontist right away if they experience signs of gum disease.
Because gum disease can be the starting point for much more serious health conditions, it’s so critical to seek professional treatment right away. Maintaining healthy gums plays a major role in living a long and healthy life.
How A Periodontist Can Help
When a patient develops gum disease, it’s usually initially diagnosed by a dentist. Dentists often serve as the first line of defense against periodontitis and typically treat mild cases. However, if you have a moderate to severe case, you’ll likely need to see a periodontist. Searching for a “Periodontist Near Me” isn’t always the most effective way to find a good provider. You can always ask your dentist for a referral.
A periodontist is a medical professional specializing in the treatment of gums. Periodontists are experienced in treating severe periodontitis and oral inflammation. Your periodontist will likely do a thorough examination and create a treatment plan consisting of one or more of the following options:
- Deep Cleaning: Dentists and periodontists may do a thorough deep clean of the mouth and gums, which goes beyond the typical dental cleaning. They may use special tools to remove plaque and tartar from above the gum lines.
- Medication: Depending on the severity, your periodontist might decide to prescribe medication. Antibiotic gels or oral antibiotics are commonly used to help manage the infection.
- Prescription Mouthwash: Your periodontist may prescribe a special antimicrobial mouthwash to help improve at-home oral hygiene.
- Surgery: Severe cases of periodontitis may require surgery. Periodontists will generally perform two types of procedures for treatment to help treat the condition and stop it from damaging your teeth and jawbone
- Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure (LANAP): A less invasive treatment you may be able to take advantage of that doesn’t includeblades or sutures
- Gum Graft Surgery: Tissue is taken from another area of your mouth and used to cover areas where the infection has destroyed the gums.
- Flap Surgery: Gums are lifted so your periodontist can remove tartar build-up underneath the gum line. Following the procedure, they’re stitched securely around the tooth.
With a wide range of treatment options, a periodontist can draft a plan to help restore your healthy gums. Oftentimes, treatment may require multiple visits. If the gum disease has led to tooth loss or jawbone damage, your periodontist may recommend other treatments to help you restore your bite, such as dental implants or bone grafts.
So what do gums, health, and a periodontist have in common? All three are critical for maintaining a long and happy life. Taking care of your gums should be a top priority and is key to preventing other health-related issues. Your periodontist can help ensure your gums remain healthy and don’t lead to other health-related conditions.
If you’re a Central Florida resident asking yourself “Where can I find an experienced periodontist near me?”, consider scheduling an appointment with Dr. Stuart Beauchamp at Ormond Beach Periodontics and Implant Dentistry today. Our practice uses the latest dental treatment technology to treat oral inflammation as effectively and efficiently as possible.