Periodontal disease is a common dental ailment that affects half of all American adults aged 30 and over. That’s no laughing matter. In fact, periodontal disease is the number one cause of lost teeth for adults in the developed world. But it’s danger extends beyond your teeth: periodontal disease has also been linked to Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis, pancreatic cancer, diabetes, stroke, heart disease and more! You may be wondering, “What are some of the symptoms of periodontal disease?” You might be surprised to learn you are already experiencing a few of them yourself.
What Is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal means “around the tooth” in Greek. Periodontal disease, also called periodontitis, is another name for gum disease. This disease affect the gum tissues that surround your teeth and the jawbone that anchors the teeth in place. It begins with bacteria in the mouth, and, if left untreated, can end with tooth loss.
Causes of Periodontal Disease
The main cause of gum disease is bacteria in plaque that is allowed to spread unchecked. The bacteria in our mouths bond with mucus and other particles to form plaque — a clear film — on our teeth. If plaque is not removed by brushing, flossing or professional cleanings at your dentist’s office, it hardens and forms tartar, which can only be removed by a dentist.
To rid our bodies of the bacteria, our immune systems release defensive cells that cause the gum tissue around the tartar to become inflamed. As our gums swell, they pull away from our teeth creating little pockets for even more bacteria to hide.
Other factors that could lead to periodontitis include:
- Smoking/tobacco use
- Hormonal changes (puberty, pregnancy, or menopause)
- Certain illnesses
- Poor nutrition
- Clenching or grinding teeth
Stages Of Periodontal Disease
Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease. At this stage, you suffer inflammation of the gums without loss of bone. Gingivitis is a mild and reversible form of periodontitis and does not always progress to periodontitis. Plaque builds up on teeth and hardens into tartar, causing gums to become inflamed, but teeth are still firmly planted in sockets. If left untreated, gum inflammation can lead to periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease is fully in effect when the damage 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 from receding gums and weakened jawbone tissue, 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
Contrary to what you may think periodontal disease can be painless; some people don’t even know they have it until significant damage to their teeth appears. An examination by your dentist, complete with an x-ray is the best way to diagnose and treat gum disease. If it’s been a while since you’ve been to the dentist, or if you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, see your dentist soon. Seeking treatment for your periodontal disease now not only improves the health of your mouth but can also have a have a positive effect on your overall health.
Dr. Brent Moses at Bayside Implant & General Dentistry in Virginia Beach VA wants to help you prevent, diagnose, and treat periodontal disease. Scheduling regular cleanings and check-ups combined with having minimally invasive treatments will protect your teeth and gums from gum disease for years to come. Your bleeding gums might be a sign that you are already being affected by periodontal disease. Don’t wait to find out! Contact us online or call (757) 264-6361 to schedule an appointment.