We put a lot of demands on our mouths every day, relying on them to speak and eat. Unfortunately, we also don’t take good care of our oral health the way that we should. Healthy gums will fit snugly around the teeth. Many adults develop periodontal disease, or gum disease, that affects the health and fit of the gums. Periodontal disease is an infection of these tissues that surround the teeth.
Besides the obvious disadvantages to periodontal disease, there are some serious complications. According to researchers, periodontal disease can be linked to heart problems, stroke, bacterial pneumonia, and pregnancy complications. Researchers are still trying to determine whether the bacteria present in gum disease or the inflammation associated with it provide the link to these other conditions.
Causes of Periodontal Disease
Predominantly, periodontal disease is caused by plaque. Plaque is a film made of bacteria that covers the teeth. The goal of brushing and flossing is to remove plaque; however, if plaque is not removed, the gums become inflamed and irritated. When the gums are inflamed, they pull away from the teeth, forming pockets. Those pockets become a breeding ground for the growth of bacteria and continued inflammation. Over the time, the bones can also be damaged.
Gingivitis is the preliminary stage of periodontal disease. Patients who have gingivitis may experience red, swollen gums that bleed easily. Gingivitis can usually be reversed through better oral care at home and by more frequent visits to the dentist.
In order to prevent periodontal disease, it is important to have regular checkups. When the dentist examines your teeth, he also checks your gums for signs of periodontal disease. The dentist will inspect the gums for firmness and color. He will use a tool called a periodontal probe to measure the space between the teeth and gums, which tells him whether there are pockets. In a healthy mouth, the space between the teeth and gums should be less than three millimeters. The larger the size of the pocket, the more advanced the state of the gum disease.
Periodontal disease can usually be prevented through proper oral care. This means brushing the teeth at least twice a day and using floss every day. You should also eat a healthy diet that is low in sugar and avoid tobacco products.
Even regular brushing and flossing does not always remove all of the plaque that gathers on the teeth and around the gums, which is why it is important to see your dentist routinely. When plaque remains on the teeth, it hardens into tartar. Tartar can only be removed by having a professional cleaning at your dentist’s office.
Warning Signs of Periodontal Disease
Many people do not even realize that they have periodontal disease. You may have periodontal disease without experiencing any pain. Here are some of the warning signs of periodontal disease that you should look for:
- Bleeding gums while brushing;
- Gums that are red, swollen, or tender;
- Separation between the gums and teeth;
- Chronic bad breath;
- Pus between the gums and teeth;
- Teeth that are loose or separating;
- Change in the bite;
- Change in the fit of partial dentures.
If you suspect that you may have periodontal disease or are in need of a checkup and cleaning, contact the office of Dr. TJ Bolt. Dr. Bolt provides comprehensive dental care in a warm, welcoming environment. Call our office to schedule your appointment today.