Many Americans have some kind of oral concern, such as cavities, sensitivity, and tooth infection. However, many older Americans have a high risk of getting periodontal disease. If you would like to know more, keep reading.
What Is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is also known as gum disease. It is a bacterial infection in the gum tissue. The two forms of periodontal disease include gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is less severe, and the effects of gingivitis reverse on their own once you kill the infection. Periodontitis, however, is more severe, and you may need surgical procedures to repair serious damage.
What Causes Periodontal Disease?
There's a lot of bacteria in your mouth, which is normally fine if you keep your teeth and gums clean. However, poor oral hygiene leads to plaque and tartar. Eventually, if left untreated, the bacteria infect the gum tissue, causing gum disease. Besides plaque, smoking can drastically increase your risk of gum disease by affecting your circulatory system (and in turn, your body's ability to repair and heal itself).
Some prescription medications may cause a reduction in saliva. Saliva naturally removes plaque and bacteria from your gums and teeth, and without this natural liquid, the plaque and bacteria remain in contact with your gums for longer. Other causes include hormonal shifts during menstruating or pregnancy, nutritional deficiencies, and a family history of gum disease.
What Are the Signs of Periodontal Disease?
When gum disease first develops, you may have little to no symptoms. Your gums may feel a little more tender, especially when you brush your teeth, and they may bleed. Your gums may also appear red instead of pink. As the disease progresses, the symptoms are more noticeable, leading to receding gums and deep pockets between teeth and gums.
If left untreated, gingivitis can advance to periodontitis, which may present with loose teeth, deeper pockets, more severe gum recession, and shifting teeth. While you may not notice it, periodontitis also attacks your jawbone, causing it to weaken.
How Is Periodontal Disease Treated?
Periodontal disease begins by cleaning the teeth as well as possible, which usually includes a deep cleaning to clean below the gumline. The area is also smoothed as rough patches hold onto plaque better. To kill the infection, your dentist uses special mouth rinses, chips, gels, etc. that contain antibiotics.
Once the infection is gone, minor damage heals on its own. However, if the gum disease caused severe pockets, gum loss, or bone loss, you may need surgical treatments, like gum flap surgery, gum grafts, and bone grafts.
Many Americans struggle with gum disease, but you don't have to be one of them. There are many ways to treat gum disease and restore your smile. To learn more, contact a dental office, like Comprehensive Dental Care.