Periodontal disease, which is commonly referred to as gum disease, is a dental condition that can have harmful effects on your gums and teeth as well as other parts of your body. The condition is usually diagnosed during routine dental cleanings and checkups at a dentist's office. The appropriate periodontal disease treatment can stop the damaging effects of the condition and restore your gums to a healthier state.
Failing to brush and floss the teeth and clean the gums properly is the leading cause of periodontal disease, and a dentist or dental hygienist can inform you of better ways to maintain good oral hygiene and may even recommend switching the type of toothbrush and toothpaste that you use. The condition can also be caused by hormonal changes in the body as well as by conditions like diabetes and Crohn's disease. If you take medications that cause dry mouth as a side effect, you could be more at risk for gum disease. Tobacco users also have a greater chance of developing the condition.
Gums that bleed easily while brushing or flossing or that remain red and swollen can indicate the presence of periodontal disease. Halitosis, or chronic bad breath, is another symptom that often occurs when the gums become infected because of the condition. If you have any loose teeth or receding areas of your gums, you should visit your dentist to determine if gum disease is the cause. The condition can also make chewing food painful.
Dental Problems Associated With Periodontal Disease
In addition to the painful infections on the gums that periodontal disease can cause, the condition can erode the gums so that they are no longer able to hold the teeth in place. The teeth may shift out of place or fall out completely if the gum tissue has been worn away by periodontal disease. Destruction of the underlying bone structures that support the teeth and other features of the mouth and face can also occur if periodontal disease is left untreated.
Other Health Problems
Other health problems throughout the body have been linked to periodontal disease. The infections on the gums and erosion of the gum tissue allow for more bacteria to enter the body and get into the bloodstream, and this can eventually lead to heart and respiratory problems that could be life-threatening. If you're a diabetic, periodontal disease could interfere with your blood glucose levels and result in additional complications.
The effects of periodontal disease can often be reversed by brushing and flossing properly if the condition is still in its earlier stages. More advanced cases of gum disease sometimes respond well to scaling and root planing treatment, which involves removing plaque and tartar buildup from the deep periodontal pockets. If surgery is needed to treat periodontal disease, a gum graft or laser procedure may be performed.
Your dental health is as important as your general health, so it's important that you do everything possible to prevent periodontal disease or have the condition treated as soon as possible. If your dentist or hygienist discovers that you have periodontal disease, treatment to help preserve the health of your gums in the most effective way will be recommended.