Periodontal diseases are infections of the gums, which gradually destroy the support of your natural teeth. There are numerous disease entities requiring different treatment approaches. Dental plaque is the primary cause of gum disease in genetically susceptible individuals. Daily brushing and flossing will prevent most periodontal conditions.
Bacteria found in plaque produces toxins or poisons that irritate the gums, which may cause them to turn red, swell and bleed easily. If this irritation is prolonged, the gums separate from the teeth, causing pockets (spaces) to form. As periodontal diseases progress, the supporting gum tissue and bone that holds teeth in place deteriorate. If left untreated, this leads to tooth loss.
Why is oral hygiene so important? Adults over 35 lose more teeth to gum diseases, (periodontal disease) than from cavities. Three out of four adults are affected at some time in their life. The best way to prevent cavities and periodontal disease is by good tooth brushing and flossing techniques, performed daily.
Periodontal diseases can be accelerated by a number of different factors such as smoking or diabetes. However, it is mainly caused by the bacteria found in dental plaque, a sticky colorless film that constantly forms on your teeth. If not carefully removed by daily brushing and flossing, plaque hardens into a rough, porous substance known as calculus (or tartar).
Some of the symptoms may include:
- Gums that bleed even occasionally
- Shifting of your teeth
- Swollen or tender gums
- Receding gums
- Persistent bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Pain or swelling
Sometimes there are no symptoms at all
Medical/Dental Consequences of Periodontal Disease
75% of all adult tooth loss is primarily due to periodontal disease. When your bone and gums are damaged by periodontal infections, there is less support of your teeth. As this support becomes reduced, your teeth become loose and then eventually can be lost. When periodontal diagnosed, treatment should start as soon as possible.
If periodontal disease continues untreated, you can lose your teeth one at a time. Lost teeth should be replaced as soon as possible. Failure to replace lost the result in further problems. Your remaining teeth will shift creating problems with your bite. It may also accelerate further bone loss on your remaining teeth. Many patients may also develop problems with their temporal mandibular joint (TMJ).
If tooth loss continues, it could lead to dentures. Many patients do not understand totally the consequences of wearing dentures. There could be many problems with dentures including :
- Inability to eat certain foods
- Diminished ability to taste certain foods
- Difficulty in speaking
- Bad breath
- Pain or discomfort
- Older looking appearance
- The need to remove your dentures at night
Most people think of gum disease in terms of their tea and now. They do not think that the fact that gum disease is a serious infection that releases bacteria into the bloodstream. This contributes or causes a significant number of medical problems.
Heart disease and heart attack
- Recent studies have demonstrated that people with periodontal disease are 2.7 times more likely to suffer heart attack.
- Recent studies also show that people with periodontal disease are three times more likely to suffer a stroke.
- Women with periodontal disease are seven to eight times more likely to give birth prematurely to low birth-weight babies.
- Periodontal infections can raise blood sugar in diabetic patients. Periodontal treatment often results in reduced need for insulin.
- Periodontal infections in the mouth can be inhaled and increase the severity of such respiratory problems as pneumonia, bronchitis and emphysema.
Some patients are at higher risk
These correlations are particularly serious for those patients who are in a higher risk categories such as:
Those patients having a personal or family history of:
- Heart disease
- Heart attack
- Premature diet childbirth
- Respiratory disease
Those having higher risk lifestyles, including:
- Chronic stress
- Frequent colds or flu
The best way to prevent gum disease is effective daily brushing and flossing as well as regular professional examinations and cleanings. Unfortunately, even with the most diligent home dental care, people still can develop some form of periodontal disease. Once this disease starts, professional intervention is necessary to prevent its progress.
Other important factors affecting the health of your gums include
- Clenching and grinding teeth
- Poor nutrition