Gum Disease: What You Need to Know
What’s the leading cause of tooth loss? No, it’s not cavities. It’s gum disease, also known as periodontitis or periodontal disease. Even though a lot of people blame tooth loss as something that “runs in their family”, gum disease is a preventable and treatable dental condition. The earlier you catch and treat it, the better the chances you have to keep your teeth healthy for life.
What is Gum Disease, Periodontitis?
Periodontal disease is an infection that affects the soft tissues (gums), bones, and tiny ligaments around the roots of your teeth. It’s caused by bacterial plaque and tartar invading the area and causing your tissues to detach from the tooth. In turn, this disease creates deep “pockets” around the tooth that house additional bacteria. Unless treated, tissue loss continues to progress until teeth get loose and fall out.
Common symptoms of gum disease include:
- Bleeding gums
- Swollen gum tissue
- Gum recession
- Halitosis (chronic bad breath)
- Sore teeth
- Loose teeth
- Tartar buildup
- Gaps between teeth
- Food getting caught when you eat
- Being “long in the tooth”
The Risk to Your Mouth
Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease. Fortunately, it’s reversible as long as you address it quickly. But once the swelling and bleeding progresses into physical tissue detachment and bone loss (as seen on your X-rays) there’s no way to treat it on your own. The detachment will continue over months or years until the only option left is to have your teeth extracted.
During your regular dental exams, we’ll measure your gum attachment levels to screen for the earliest signs of detachment. Routine X-rays also make it possible to check for bone loss around the roots of your teeth.
Gum Disease Impact on Your Overall Health
Your mouth is the gateway to your entire body and a reflection of your overall wellness. Scientific research has proven that oral bacteria from gum disease can spread into your bloodstream, lungs, and even unborn babies. This bacterial load strains your immune system and makes it more difficult to fight off other medical conditions. In fact, we know that aggressive gum disease statistically raises your chances of:
- Uncontrolled blood glucose levels in diabetics
- Pneumonia and respiratory disease
- Heart attack
- Pre-term labor and preeclampsia
- Erectile dysfunction
…and possibly Alzheimer’s disease.
Treatments for Gum Disease
The best treatment for gum disease is preventative care. Your routine dental cleanings, daily brushing and flossing can ward off gum infections and reverse gingivitis in its earliest stages. But if a gingival infection starts to progress into periodontitis, our gum doctor will prescribe a series of deep cleanings, soft tissue therapies, or laser treatment to halt the infection before it causes additional damage.
Gum Disease Screening in Georgetown
Are you experiencing early symptoms of periodontal disease? Then it’s time to schedule an exam with our gum expert and board-certified periodontist. Our multi-specialty Georgetown dental office provides comprehensive preventative dentistry as well as advanced gum disease treatments under one roof.
Call Southern Delaware Dental Specialists today to request an appointment with Dr. Sanz.