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Periodontal disease, often called “gum disease” is a an inflammation of the gums caused by plaque that has hardened on teeth along and under the gun line. in it’s mildest stage it is called gingivitis, which left untreated can progress to periodontitis, which can cause significant health problems.
Our mouths are full of bacteria. These bacteria, along with mucus and other particles, constantly form a sticky, colorless "plaque" on teeth. Brushing and flossing help get rid of plaque. Plaque that is not removed can harden and form "tartar" that brushing doesn't clean. Only a professional cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist can remove tartar.
The longer plaque and tartar are on teeth, the more harmful they become. The bacteria cause inflammation of the gums that is called "gingivitis." In gingivitis, the gums become red, swollen and can bleed easily. Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease that can usually be reversed with daily brushing and flossing, and regular cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist. This form of gum disease does not include any loss of bone and tissue that hold teeth in place.
When gingivitis is not treated, it can advance to "periodontitis" (which means "inflammation around the tooth.") In periodontitis, gums pull away from the teeth and form spaces (called "pockets") that become infected. The body's immune system fights the bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line. Bacterial toxins and the body's natural response to infection start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place. If not treated, the bones, gums, and tissue that support the teeth are destroyed. The teeth may eventually become loose and have to be removed.
- Red or swollen gums
- Tender or bleeding gums
- Bad breath that won’t go away
- Painful chewing
- Loose teeth
- Sensitive teeth
- Receeding gums
The main goal of treatment is to control the infection. The number and types of treatment will vary, depending on the extent of the gum disease. Any type of treatment requires that the patient keep up good daily care at home
- Brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
- Floss regularly
- See your dentist for routine recare visits
- Avoid smoking or chewing tobacco
- Don't ignore symptoms that may be caused by gum disease
People usually don't show signs of gum disease until they are in their 30s or 40s. Men are more likely to have gum disease than women.
Smoking is one of the most significant risk factors associated with the development of gum disease and can lower the chances for successful treatment.
- Hormonal changes in girls/women
These changes can make gums more sensitive and make it easier for gingivitis to develop.
People with diabetes are at higher risk for developing infections, including gum disease.
- Other illnesses
Diseases like cancer or AIDS and their treatments can also negatively affect the health of gums.
Many prescription and over the counter medications reduce the flow of saliva, which has a protective effect on the mouth. Also, some drugs can cause abnormal overgrowth of the gum tissue, making it difficult to keep gums clean.
- Genetic susceptibility
Other Health Issues
In some studies, researchers have observed that people with gum disease (when compared to people without gum disease) were more likely to develop heart disease or have difficulty controlling blood sugar. Other studies showed that women with gum disease were more likely than those with healthy gums to deliver preterm, low birth weight babies.