What to Know About Gum Disease

Gum disease, clinically referred to as periodontal disease, is a common dental condition that affects around half of American adults over 30. This disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in the developed world and is linked to serious health problems such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, stroke, and some cancers.

Hires Dental Care is a Toledo, OH dental practice offering comprehensive dental care to help patients avoid periodontal disease and keep their teeth healthy for a lifetime.

What Is Periodontal Disease?

The word “periodontal” means “around the tooth.” Periodontitis is another word for gum disease and refers to inflammation and disease of the gum tissues that surround the teeth. If left untreated, periodontitis can spread down to the underlying bone and cause tooth and bone loss.

Causes of Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is most often caused by plaque that remains on the teeth and hardens into tartar. Throughout the course of the day, naturally-occurring oral bacteria combine with mucus and leftover food particles to form a sticky substance called plaque. If plaque is not brushed away, it hardens to become tartar. This is what eats away at the teeth and causes gum disease.

To get rid of the bacteria, our immune systems release defense cells that cause areas around the teeth to become inflamed. As our gums swell, they pull away from the teeth creating little pockets that allow more bacteria to settle in.

Other factors that could lead to periodontal disease include:

  • Smoking/tobacco use
  • Hormonal changes (puberty, pregnancy, or menopause)
  • Certain illnesses
  • Genetics
  • Poor nutrition
  • Stress
  • Clenching or grinding teeth

Stages Of Periodontal Disease

Gum disease starts with gingivitis, which is inflammation of the gums without bone loss. It’s mild and reversible, and not all gingivitis is a sign of periodontitis. With gingivitis, plaque has built up on the teeth but the teeth are still firmly planted in their sockets.

Periodontal disease is diagnosed when the destruction has reached the underlying jaw bone. Pockets in the teeth caused by gum inflammation get deeper and reach the jaw bone. Eventually, teeth become unstable and fall out.

What Are the Symptoms of Periodontal Disease?

You may be already experiencing gum disease without knowing it. Common symptoms of periodontal disease include:

  • Gums that bleed easily when brushing or flossing
  • Gums pulling away from teeth
  • Swollen or tender gums
  • Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth
  • Deep pockets between teeth and gums
  • Loose teeth or teeth that shift around in the mouth
  • New spaces between teeth

When You Should See a Dentist

X-rays are the best way to find and treat gum disease, as they provide an inside look at what’s going on in the bone. If it has been a while since you’ve seen the dentist or if you’re experiencing any symptoms of periodontal disease, see your dentist. Addressing the problems now will ensure minimal damage to teeth and minimize the need for complex dental procedures. You can also prevent health problems by treating gum disease.

Hires Dental Care can help you reverse the effects of gum disease with regular cleanings and minimally-invasive treatments. Contact us online today or schedule your appointment at 419.365.2217.

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