Periodontal disease is a frequently diagnosed dental condition that affects one out of every two American adults aged 30 and over, which is no small number. In fact, periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults in the developed world. But the threat is to more than just teeth, periodontal disease has also been linked to Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis, pancreatic cancer, diabetes, stroke, heart disease and more! If you find yourself wondering, “What are some periodontal disease symptoms?”, you might be shocked to learn you are experiencing a few of them yourself.
What Is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease, meaning “around the tooth” in Greek, or periodontitis are the clinical names for the more commonly known gum disease. It is a disease of the gum tissues that surround the teeth and the jawbone that anchors the teeth in place and begins with bacteria in the mouth infecting and inflaming these tissues. If untreated, it can end with bone tissue and tooth loss.
Causes of Periodontal Disease
The main cause of periodontal disease is bacteria in plaque that is not removed by regular oral hygiene. The bacteria in our mouths bond with mucus and other particles to form clear, sticky plaque on teeth. The plaque that isn’t removed by brushing and flossing hardens and forms tartar which irritates your gums.
To rid itself of these irritants, your immune systems release defense cells that cause areas around the teeth to become inflamed. As our gums swell, they pull away from the teeth creating little pockets that allow more bacteria to settle in, eating away at the bone tissue.
Other factors that could lead to periodontal disease include:
- Smoking/tobacco use
- Hormonal changes (puberty, pregnancy, or menopause)
- Certain illnesses
- Poor nutrition
- Clenching or grinding teeth
Stages Of Periodontal Disease
Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums without loss of bone. At this stage it is mild and reversible and not all gingivitis progresses to periodontitis. Plaque has built up on teeth and gums become inflamed, but teeth are still firmly planted in sockets. If left untreated, this inflammation can lead to gum disease.
Periodontal disease is when the destruction has reached the underlying bone. The pockets created by gum inflammation deepen and more gum tissue and bone are affected. Eventually, due to loss of support, the teeth can become loose and fall out.
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 can be painless to the point that many people may not even be aware they have it. A periodontal examination by your dentist, complete with x-rays is the best way to diagnose and treat gum disease. If it’s been a while since you’ve seen the dentist, or if you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, schedule with your dentist as soon as possible. Taking care of your periodontal disease now not only improves the health of your mouth but can also have a positive effect on your overall health.
Dr. John C. Cranham in Chesapeake, VA wants to help you prevent, diagnose, and treat periodontal disease. Regular cleanings and check-ups combined with minimally invasive treatments can help protect your teeth and gums from periodontal disease for years to come. Your bleeding gums might be a sign of periodontal disease so don’t wait until it’s too late to easily treat! Contact us online today to schedule an appointment or call 757.656.4109.