Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, affects the gums and other tissues that support the teeth. Over half of the adults in the U.S. have a form of gum disease. If it is left untreated, the bacteria in the gums can enter the bloodstream and reach other parts of the body, increasing the risk of diabetes, lung disease, heart disease, osteoporosis, and cancer.
Periodontal disease is caused by plaque that develops on the teeth and starts destroying the gums. Left alone, it will also destroy the structure that holds the tooth in place and the bone, resulting in tooth loss.
Types and Symptoms of Gum Disease
The early stage of gum disease is gingivitis. During this stage, the gums are inflamed by plaque, making them red and swollen. This may cause the gums to bleed when teeth are brushed or flossed; a symptom many ignore because the bleeding may be slight or painless. If gingivitis is left untreated, it can lead to the much more severe form of gum disease: periodontitis.
Periodontitis has three stages: early, moderate, and advanced. In the early stages, tartar can be found all the way down to the roots of the teeth. The causes the gums to pull away from the teeth and pockets to form. In the next stage, gums are swollen and bleed easily. The pockets that formed in the early stage deepen and may develop pus. The bacteria starts to destroy the bone and supportive tissue. In the advanced stage, the pockets can deepen enough that the roots of the teeth become visible and the bacteria can cause an infection. This is the stage where one can lose otherwise healthy teeth.
Treatment of Periodontal Disease
More severe cases of gum disease will need to be treated by a periodontist, but we can help with early and moderate stages using a procedure called scaling and root planing. The treatment includes removing plaque from the crowns of your teeth and the roots below the gumline. Afterward, fibers with antibiotics are placed between the gums and teeth to promote healing and prevent infection. You may also be given oral antibiotics.
This treatment is effective, but is not for everyone. People with heart conditions, who have had recent surgery, or those with autoimmune conditions may not be eligible for scaling and root planing.
If your family has a history of gum disease, or if you've noticed any of the above symptoms, call Amazing Smiles Dentistry to schedule an appointment. Early detection can help heal and reverse gum disease and help you enjoy lifelong oral health.