Periodontal disease is a progressive disease that can result in tooth loss, and even spread bacteria throughout the body through the blood stream. Sometimes called gum disease, periodontal disease effects over 47% of Americans each year – that’s nearly half of America! Luckily, a dentist or periodontist can treat and completely reverse the effects of periodontal disease if it is detected early. Here’s the quick rundown of periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease manifests in a variety of ways. Typically, periodontal disease begins as gingivitis, and then progresses into the more serious periodontitis. Periodontal disease occurs when plaque spreads below the gum line and irritates the gums. If periodontal treatment is left untreated, the tissues and bone that hold teeth can be destroyed, resulting in tooth and bone loss.
Gingivitis is the most mild for of periodontal disease. It causes the gums to become red, swollen, and bleed easily. Gingivitis is caused by excessive plaque build up. If plaque is not removed by daily brushing and flossing, it produces toxins that can irritate the gum tissue, which causes gums to become red and puffy, and easily bleed. There is normally little or no discomfort associated with gingivitis, however, bleeding while brushing is quite common.
If gingivitis is left untreated, it can worsen into periodontitis, which is typically characterized by gum inflammation and recession. Periodontitis typically progresses slowly, but it rapid periods of progression can occur. Periodontitis can be further broken down into various forms and degrees of seriousness.
Aggressive Periodontitis occurs in patients that are otherwise healthy, and progresses very rapidly – and sometimes without symptoms. Chronic periodontitis is the most common form of periodontitis, and is prevalent in adults. It progresses more slowly, and is characterized by gum inflammation and bleeding.
Usually, the patient will experience gingivitis before periodontal disease, which is characterized by swollen, red gums that bleed easily. Gingivitis can worsen into more serious forms of periodontal disease, which is usually marked by heavy accumulations of dental plaque and calculus. Periodontal disease and periodontitis often causes puffy, bright red gums and heavy gum recession.
Periodontal disease is generally caused by poor oral hygiene, which can lead to gingivitis. Other common causes are diabetes, use of certain medications, tobacco use, a poor diet, and genetic predisposition. However, most periodontal disease begins as simple gingivitis, which can be easily treated and prevented.
Periodontal disease can lead to a variety of outcomes, such as bleeding gums, swollen and bright red gums, gums that are recede away from the teeth, and chronic bad breath. More serious progressions can lead to tooth, gum and bone loss.
Like cavities, periodontal disease can be prevented by maintaining a healthy oral routine, which includes brushing twice per day for two minutes at a time, and flossing once per day. You can also fight periodontal disease by visiting your dentist once or twice per year for a routine oral checkup, and maintaining a healthier diet.
As with most ailments, periodontal disease is best dealt with in its early stages making early diagnosis vital for successful treatment. Periodontal disease is also very nuanced, and should be diagnosed by an oral health professional like a dentist or periodontist. Schedule an appointment with our office so that we can evaluate your oral health, and provide you with a treatment plan that will help you combat periodontal disease.