Periodontal disease is a common dental ailment that affects one out of every two American adults aged 30 and over which is no small thing. In fact, periodontitis is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults in the developed world. But it goes beyond teeth, periodontal disease has also been linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis, pancreatic cancer, diabetes, stroke, heart disease and more! If you find yourself wondering, “What are some of the symptoms of periodontal disease?”, you might be surprised to learn you have a few of them already.
What Is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal means “around the tooth” in Greek. Periodontal disease, also called periodontitis, is the disease of the gum tissues that surround the teeth and the jawbone tissues that anchor the teeth in place. It starts with food remnants forming plaque inside the mouth, and, if untreated, it can end with tooth loss.
Causes of Periodontal Disease
The main cause of periodontal disease is plaque that has formed on and in between our teeth. Plaque is formed when the bacteria in our mouths bond with mucus and food particles to form plaque on teeth. The plaque that isn’t removed by brushing and flossing hardens and forms tartar.
When the bacteria-ridden tartar irritates the gums, our immune systems release defense cells that cause the gum tissue around the teeth to become inflamed. As our gums swell, they pull away from the teeth creating little pockets that allow more bacteria to settle in.
Other factors that could lead to periodontal disease include:
- Smoking/tobacco use
- Hormonal changes (puberty, pregnancy, or menopause)
- Certain illnesses
- Poor nutrition
- Clenching or grinding teeth
Stages Of Periodontal Disease
Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums without loss of bone. It is a mild and reversible form of periodontitis, but not all gingivitis progresses to periodontitis. At this stage, plaque has built up on teeth and gums have become inflamed, but teeth are still firmly planted in sockets. If left untreated, this gum inflammation can lead to gum disease.
Periodontal disease is when the destruction has reached the underlying bone tissue of the jaw. The pockets created by gum inflammation deepen and more gum tissue and bone are affected. Eventually, due to loss of proper support, the teeth can become loose and fall out.
What Are the Symptoms of Periodontal Disease?
- Gums that bleed easily while brushing and flossing.
- Swollen or tender gums.
- Gums that pull away from teeth.
- Changes in the way teeth fit together upon biting down.
- Deep pockets between teeth and gums.
- Loose or shifting teeth.
- Pus between your teeth and gums.
- Persistent bad breath or bad taste in the mouth.
- New spaces developing between your teeth.
When You Should See a Dentist
Periodontal disease can be painless; some people aren’t even aware they have it. A periodontal evaluation with x-rays is the best way to find and treat gum disease. If it’s been a while since you’ve been to the dentist, or if you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, see your dentist soon. Taking care of your periodontal disease now not only improves the health of your mouth but can also have a positive effect on your overall health.
The caring dentists at Metropolitan Center for Complete Dentistry in East Hanover, NJ want to help you prevent, diagnose, and treat periodontal disease. Regular cleanings and check-ups combined with minimally invasive treatments will protect your teeth and gums from periodontal disease for years to come. Your bleeding gums might be a sign of periodontal disease. Don’t wait to find out! Contact us online today to schedule an appointment or call (973) 287-3153.