How Do I Know If I Have Gum Disease & What Can I Do About It?
January 17, 2011
You may have gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, if you answer yes to one or more of the following questions.
- Do your gums bleed easily? Healthy gums do not bleed!
- Are your gums red, swollen or tender?
- Have your gums pulled away from the teeth?
- Do you suffer from persistent bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth?
- Are your permanent teeth loose or separating?
- Has there been any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bit?
- For denture wearers, has there been any change in the way your dentures fit?
It's possible to have periodontal disease and have no symptoms or warning signs. This is one reason why regular dental checkups and periodontal examinations at your family dental center are very important.
What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease, more commonly known as gum disease, is an infection of the tissues that support your teeth. Your gum tissue is not attached to the teeth as high as it may seem. There is a very shallow v-shaped crevice called a sulcus between the tooth and gums. Periodontal disease attacks just below the gum line in the sulcus, where it can cause the attachment of the tooth and its supporting tissues to break down. As the tissues are damaged, the sulcus develops into a pocket: generally, the more severe the periodontal disease, the greater the depth of the pocket.
Periodontal disease is classified according to the severity of the disease. The two major stages are gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is a milder and reversible form of periodontal disease that only affects the gums. Gingivitis may lead to more serious, destructive forms of periodontal disease called periodontitis.
What should I do if I have symptoms of periodontal disease?
Schedule a dental exam with your dentist at your family dental center. Some dentists, including First Choice Dental, provide periodontal maintenance right in the dental office where you have other work done. First Choice Dental also has a periodontist on staff in the event that treatment beyond periodontal maintenance is needed.
Treatment methods for periodontal disease depend upon the type of periodontal disease and how far the condition has progressed. Good oral hygiene at home is essential to help keep periodontal disease from becoming more serious or recurring. You don't have to lose teeth to periodontal disease.
What can happen if I don't treat my periodontal disease?
Your mouth is the window to the rest of your body. It's how you take in food and liquid, and it's also how bacteria can enter the bloodstream. Periodontal disease will get worse and spread to the rest of the body if not managed and treated. Research has shown a close link between periodontal disease and other systemic issues such as heart disease, diabetes, preterm labor and low birth weights in pregnant women and other health issues. Eighty percent of Americans over the age of 35 have some form of gum disease. Don't wait until you experience pain to have periodontal disease treated. In its earliest stages when it's easiest and most effective to treat, gum disease is often painless.
Risk Factors For Developing Periodontal Disease
If one or more risk factors is a factor in your life, you should be aware of an increased risk of developing gum disease.
- Tobacco smoking or chewing
- Systemic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis
- Some types of medication such as steroids, some types of anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, some calcium channel blockers and oral contraceptives
- Bridges that no longer fit properly
- Crooked teeth
- Fillings that have become defective
- Pregnancy or use of oral contraceptives
Brush, clean or floss between your teeth, eat a balanced diet, and schedule regular dental visits for a lifetime of healthy smiles, free of periodontal disease.
Schedule an appointment with a dentist who can help you determine if you have periodontal disease.
Or visit our website for more information about periodontal maintenance or our periodontist.