The month of February has been specifically designated to inform people about the dangers of gum disease and all that comes along with it. The good news? It’s preventable and as long as you catch it early—it’s completely curable.
Causes and Symptoms
Another name for gum disease is periodontal disease. But, what it is? Periodontal disease is a series of inflammatory conditions that affect the tissues in your teeth. It causes your gums to become swollen and red, and it can cause bleeding in its early stage, called gingivitis.
There’s a more extreme form of the disease, called periodontitis. When this happens, your gums move away from your teeth and the bone can be lost, resulting in broken teeth or teeth that are brittle and start to break and/or fall out. Additionally, it can cause embarrassing halitosis, more commonly known as bad breath.
Periodontitis is caused by bacteria that have been allowed to accumulate on your teeth and gums. This occurs as a result of poor oral care. As it progresses, your bones and teeth can be damaged. However, if periodontitis is treated early and proper oral hygiene is maintained, the damage can be stopped.
Stages of Periodontitis
Gingivitis is the only stage of periodontal disease that is reversible as it has not yet had time to attack the bones.
Gingivitis is the product of an accumulation of plaque across the teeth. There are only a few signs at this stage and most are painless. This is what makes periodontal disorder so common and troubling. You might not know you have it until it’s too late.
The second stage, slight periodontal disease, is not reversible—but it is manageable. Stage two indicates that the infection has spread to your bone and started to destroy it. The bacteria evolves and becomes more aggressive, which is what causes additional bone loss.
Moderate periodontal disease is when it starts to get more serious and dangerous. This is because the bacteria begin to attack not only your bones but your bloodstream and immune system as well!
The final stage of periodontal disease, advanced, occurs when the infection gets even deeper and the bacteria evolve into disease-causing bacteria. In addition to bone loss, symptoms include swollen gums that pus, tooth sensitivity, further loosening of teeth, painful chewing, and severe halitosis. This stage requires surgery or periodontal laser therapy to clean the bacteria.
Prevention and Treatment
Periodontal disease affects at least 50% of all Americans age 30 and older which is why it is so risky and why we need an entire month to highlight it.
If left untreated, stage four periodontal disease leads to spacing or gaps between the teeth, gum recession, patients needing dentures, and other overall health problems that can be serious.
Treating periodontal disease quickly is of the utmost importance. Scheduling regular check-ups and cleanings and practicing good, daily oral hygiene habits can help prevent you from suffering from periodontal disease and/or can help halt the progression of periodontal disease.
For more advanced cases, treatment includes cleaning the pockets around your teeth to prevent damage to the surrounding bone. In some severe cases, you may require surgery.
Make an Appointment
If you suspect you have the beginning stages of periodontitis, or if you’re due for an appointment (the Amerian Dental Association recommends you have a dental check-up and cleaning at least once every six months) call us at (978) 619-8455 or click here to schedule an appointment online.
Dr. Randall Burba is an American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry accredited dentist, with a practice in Salem, Massachusetts. He considers himself an artist–with teeth and beyond! He often paints, draws, and has a passion for woodworking.