What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is a highly common infection of the periodontal tissues (gums and bone) that are responsible for supporting the teeth. These infections are caused by bacteria that grow on the teeth near the gum line due to poor brushing and flossing practices. Periodontal disease is known as gingivitis during its earliest stages, which is typically characterized by sore, swollen gums that may bleed easily. Allowed to progress, advanced periodontal disease may set in causing pain, receding gums and pockets between the gums and teeth. Known as periodontitis, this type of periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss among American adults – even more so than decay.
Did you know?
Periodontal disease has been associated with a number of risk factors aside from poor brushing and flossing habits. In fact, the risk of developing gingivitis or periodontitis increases if you have a systemic disease like heart disease, as well as conditions like diabetes and AIDS. Other factors that may contribute to the development of periodontal disease include stress, genetics, crowded teeth, faulty dental restorations, and the use of certain medications that may cause dry mouth. According to the Centers for Disease Control, women are also at an increased risk for periodontal disease when they are undergoing hormonal changes, such as with menopause or pregnancy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I have periodontal disease?
You may have gingivitis or periodontitis if you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above. However, the only way of knowing for sure whether you have periodontal disease is via a professional dental exam. Keep in mind that you may have periodontal disease and be asymptomatic; so be sure to visit your dentist for a thorough exam and cleaning at least twice per year.
What will my periodontist do if I am diagnosed with periodontal disease?
Your treatment will depend on whether you are diagnosed with gingivitis or periodontitis. Minor cases of periodontal disease are usually treated with a thorough cleaning and topical antibiotic. If, however, your periodontal tissues and bone have begun to deteriorate or your gums are pulling away from your teeth, you may require a more complex treatment.
Will I need to do anything to prevent periodontal disease from returning?
Yes. Periodontal disease can reoccur – especially if you do not make any changes to your brushing and flossing habits. By brushing after every meal, flossing once daily, avoiding tobacco, and getting frequent professional dental cleanings, you could help prevent periodontal disease from returning in the future.