Periodontal disease is more common than you might think. It is an inflammatory condition that affects the gingiva, commonly known as the gums, and other tissues that support the teeth. Gingivitis is the earliest stage of periodontal disease, causing problems like red gums, gums that bleed easily, and swollen or tender gums.
These symptoms indicate the body’s natural immune response to a bacterial infection. At this stage, fortunately, it is quite easy to reverse gum disease and regain optimal oral health. Contrary to popular belief, gingivitis and even more advanced gum disease are actually quite common. According to the CDC, almost half of American adults over 30 have gum disease to some degree.
If left untreated, gingivitis may develop into a more serious form of periodontal disease called periodontitis. In this stage of periodontal disease, we see a deterioration of the bone and other structures supporting the teeth. The gums pull away from the tooth, and the teeth may loosen or eventually fall out.
Want to improve your oral health and prevent gum disease? Read on to learn some important facts about periodontal disease that everyone should know!
Yes, it is Important to Floss Every Day
Your toothbrush cleans the outer surfaces of your teeth, but it can’t reach every nook and cranny. Only flossing gets rid of those food particles and bacteria that get stuck in the tight spaces between your teeth, the gap at the base of your teeth, and the gums. If not removed through daily flossing, the bacteria turn into plaque and eventually lead to gingivitis.
Cavities and Gum Disease are Two Different Things
A cavity is caused by tooth decay that occurs when bacteria in your mouth invade small holes in your tooth enamel. Plaque builds up, causing more bacteria and a bigger hole that eventually turns into a cavity. This differs from gingivitis that affects the gum tissue. You may develop periodontal disease even though you have no cavities.
Gum disease may contribute to other disease progressions, including heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes, according to the American Academy of Periodontology.
Don’t Ignore Symptoms You See in the Sink
The main cause of periodontal disease is poor dental hygiene. Your risk of developing gum disease is high if you leave bacteria to accumulate on your teeth and gums after you have finished brushing and flossing.
Red, swollen, and bleeding gums are not normal. The first thing most people notice when they first start to develop gingivitis is a pink tinge in their spit as they brush their teeth. It is easy to “brush aside” streaks of blood in the sink as you hurry on about your day, but those symptoms are an important indicator of the beginning stages of gum disease. If you notice any bleeding while you are brushing or flossing, or when you eat certain foods, schedule an appointment with your dentist.
Some people have heard that bleeding gums during pregnancy is just a normal part of being pregnant. Pregnancy gingivitis occurs in some women, but not everyone gets it. Be extra diligent in brushing and flossing to prevent the issue, but don’t overdo it and brush too hard. You may benefit from more frequent cleanings with your dentist if you experience this problem.
It’s Not Just Older People Who Get Periodontal Disease
Anyone can get periodontal disease. Some people think that only older people can develop the condition, but this is just not true. Gum disease is more common among older folks, but people of all ages can get periodontal disease. Even children get it from time to time.
People of all ages need to get regular dental checkups to prevent early signs of gum disease from progressing. Report any pinkness you see in the sink to your dentist, plus any redness, swelling, or soreness of the gums you may be experiencing.
On that note: we all know bad breath is embarrassing, but if it is persistent, forget the embarrassment and talk to your dentist about it. It may be a symptom of oral disease.
Poor Dental Hygiene Is Not The Only Thing That Contributes to Periodontal Disease
Other factors beyond how much you brush and floss can also impact your gum disease risk. For instance, smoking or chewing tobacco greatly increases your chances of developing gum disease. Stress, a poor diet, medications, diabetes, teeth grinding, or genetics can also play a role in your risk of getting gum disease.
Even if you brush your teeth after every meal and before bedtime and you floss every day, you could still be at risk of getting gum disease. Let your dentist know if you have any additional risk factors so they can help you come up with a prevention plan.
How Can You Prevent Periodontal Disease?
It’s actually pretty simple (but not always easy!). Brush your teeth after every meal and before you go to bed, and floss at least once a day. Stop smoking, eat a healthy diet, and cut down on your stress levels if possible. See your dentist for a cleaning and a thorough exam twice a year.
What Will Happen When You Go To a Periodontal Dentist?
If you are diagnosed with gum disease, a periodontal dentist will design a customized treatment plan for you. There is nothing to fear when visiting a periodontal dentist. Every day of delayed treatment pushes back your recovery, adds to your stress, and damages your smile.
If your gum disease has progressed to the point of tooth loss, you still have options. A dental implant can replace a single tooth or several teeth. This surgical procedure replaces not only the missing tooth but the root as well to create a permanent, functional artificial tooth that looks as natural as your own remaining teeth.
The latest receding gum treatment to restore lost gum tissue is Alloderm. This is a process of grafting gum material from a tissue bank to the patient’s gums, instead of grafting tissue from another area of their mouth. Alloderm treatment requires less surgery and is a favorite of patients. It was first used for burn patients and now is very successful in treating receding gums as a result of periodontal disease. Periodontists are specialists in diagnosing and treating all stages of periodontal disease. Dr. John Paul Gallardo is a leading periodontal specialist with expertise in all of the most up-to-date therapies, surgical procedures, and technologies for periodontal treatments. Call 305-547-8687 today for an appointment at his Miami office.