People tend to worry a lot about tooth decay and cavities, but give gum disease little thought until it affects them. But periodontal disease is something that you should be concerned about. For one thing, it’s surprisingly common. The Centers for Disease Control says it afflicts nearly half of Americans over the age of 30, and 70% over the age of 65. It is the leading cause of permanent tooth loss and, even more worryingly, is associated with several systemic illnesses.
Indeed, diseased gums will destroy your smile. They often presents no symptoms in their early stages, so regular dental cleanings and exams are essential. We can spot a problem before you’ve noticed a thing and while it’s still easy to reverse.
Bacteria Infect the Gums
If bacteria, plaque, and tartar are allowed to build up around and underneath your gumline, they cause the soft tissues to become irritated and inflamed. Eventually, your gums begin to pull away from the teeth, pockets of infection form, and even your underlying bone becomes affected. Early-stage disease is called gingivitis, while later-stage disease is called periodontitis.
Because your teeth need healthy gums to anchor them in place, periodontal disease will eventually cause them to loosen and fall out.
Current research is also showing how bacteria from your mouth can affect your body as a whole — and it’s not good. Periodontitis may put you at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, and cancer. People with diabetes are especially susceptible to developing gum problems, and their disease is often resistant to treatment.
Minimize Your Risk
While not all gum disease risk factors are within your control, some are. And it’s always a good idea to at least be aware of where you stand.
- Smoking and other forms of tobacco put you at a high risk for developing periodontal issues. And smokers’ disease tends to be more difficult to treat.
- The older you are, the more likely you are to have periodontal disease.
- If gum problems run in your family, you are more likely to develop them yourself.
- Stress may make your body less able to ward off infection in general — including in your gums.
- Hormone changes may affect your gums. Pregnant women are prone to developing a condition called “pregnancy gingivitis.”
- Excellent oral hygiene prevents destructive plaque and tartar from building up on your teeth.
- Good nutrition ensures your body is getting the vitamins and minerals it needs, which helps your ability to fight infection.
- Teeth clenching and grinding can damage the gums and cause them to recede.
If your disease is caught early on, it will likely be reversible with excellent oral hygiene at home and regular professional cleanings. If it’s more advanced, we can perform a deep-cleaning technique called scaling and root planing. This procedure removes all the infection from around and underneath the gumline, plus smooths the tooth roots to enable the gums to properly reattach.