What are the Signs and Symptoms of Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease (also called periodontitis or gum disease) is a very common, progressive condition that affects about half of all Americans age 30 and older. It’s a serious gum infection that damages soft tissue and destroys the bone that supports your teeth. This can make teeth become loose, and it’s the reason why periodontal disease is the most common cause of tooth loss among adults in the U.S.
What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease occurs when the harmful bacteria that are found in plaque begin to irritate or inflame gum tissue. In its early stages, it’s called gingivitis, and the more advanced form of the disease is called periodontitis. When it progresses to this point, it can cause tooth loss and has been linked to serious overall health issues such as heart disease, premature births, lung infections, and troubles with blood sugar control among diabetic patients.
This disease is very common, but it’s largely preventable.
What are the symptoms of periodontal disease?
The signs and symptoms of gum disease can include:
- Gums that are swollen or tender
- Bright red or purplish gums
- Gums that have receded or pulled away from your teeth, making your teeth look longer than before
- Increased spaces between your teeth
- Visible pus between your teeth and gums
- Bad breath
- A bad taste in your mouth
- Loose teeth
- A change in the way your partial dentures fit
What causes periodontal disease?
Plaque can build up on your teeth when carbohydrates mix with the bacteria in your mouth. Brushing and flossing can remove plaque, but it re-forms quickly – usually within 24 hours. If it stays on your teeth longer than two or three days, it can harden and form tartar under your gum line. This substance can only be removed by a professional dental cleaning, and if it’s allowed to remain, it can serve as a reservoir for bacteria.
As inflammation gets worse, gums become swollen and detach from the tooth, forming a space or “pocket” between the tooth and gum. This provides an ideal breeding ground for bacteria, and as the infection deepens, it can cause a loss of tissue and bone. If too much bone is destroyed, one or more teeth may become loose and may need to be removed or may be lost on its own.
What are the risk factors of periodontal disease?
Good oral care at home and regular professional dental care can help prevent gum disease or help to identify and treat it in its earliest stages.
In addition to poor oral health habits, the following factors can increase your risk of gum disease:
- Gingivitis – This issue can develop into periodontitis if it’s not treated.
- Heredity – Some people are genetically predisposed to developing gum disease, but good oral care can help reduce the risk.
- Tobacco use – Smokers are more likely to develop it, and it also tends to be more severe in smokers.
- Diabetes – Diseases such as diabetes interfere with the body’s inflammatory system, making diabetics more prone to gum disease.
- Poor nutrition – A poor diet can make it harder for your body to fight off infection, including the type that can cause gum disease.
- Certain medications – Some types of medication can cause dry mouth, which make plaque more likely to form.
- Substance abuse – Drug use may make you more likely to have dental issues and less likely to receive regular dental care.
- Poor-fitting dental restoration or problems with the way teeth fit together when biting – These can provide areas that trap food and encourage bacteria growth.
Where can I find treatment for periodontal disease in Boston?
Periodontal treatment at Boston Center for Oral Health is customized according to the type and severity of the disease. After an examination, the periodontist will be able to recommend the appropriate treatment.
At Boston Center for Oral Health, we aim to prevent and avoid dental diseases through a proactive, preventative course of treatment. When periodontal disease develops, our patients can rest assure that they will receive expert care from our Boston periodontist, Dr. Sam Shamardi.
Whether you’ve seen signs of gum disease or simply want to receive preventative care, schedule an appointment today with Boston Center for Oral Health.