Periodontal disease or Gum disease ranges from gingivitis, which is a simple inflammation of the gums to a more serious form of the disease that causes major damage to the bone and soft tissue that support the teeth.
Causes of Periodontal Disease
The bacteria and other particles present in the mouth combine each other, forming a colorless, sticky plaque on the teeth. If this plaque is not removed by regular brushing and flossing, it can harden and form bacteria-harboring stubborn tartar, which is difficult to remove and requires professional treatment.
Gingivitis: When plaque and tartar are left on the teeth for extended periods of time, they tend to become more harmful and cause the gums to become inflamed, resulting in the condition known as ‘gingivitis’. In gingivitis, the gums bleed easily and become swollen and red. At this stage it can still be reversed by brushing and flossing daily and regular check ups and cleaning by a dental hygienist or a dentist.
Periodontitis: If left untreated, gingivitis could lead to periodontitis, wherein the gums form infected pockets and pull away from the teeth. The plaque rapidly spreads below the gum line and the immune system of the body releases enzymes to prevent infection. The reaction between these enzymes that are helping fight the infection and the bacterial toxins that are present break down the connective tissue and bone that hold the teeth in place. if not treated in time, the gums, bones and connective tissue that support the teeth get destroyed. Eventually the teeth may become too lose and may have to be removed.
Risk Factors of Periodontitis
Smoking is one of the major risk factors associated with the development of periodontitis. Smoking also reduces the efficacy of some treatments. Stress, diabetes and certain other illnesses including AIDS and cancer use up valuable infection-fighting resources of the body, making it more susceptible to periodontal disease. Certain medication including antidepressants and certain heart medicines lessen the flow of saliva thus leaving the teeth unprotected and more susceptible to developing periodontitis.
How to know if you have periodontal disease
Unfortunately symptoms of periodontitis often go unnoticed until such time that the disease is quite advanced. Some of the symptoms include persistent bad breath, swollen or red gums, sore or bleeding gums, sensitive teeth, acute pain while chewing and prematurely loose teeth. Any one symptom or a combination of two or more symptoms could indicate a serious problem, and should be checked by a dentist as soon as possible to prevent any further decay.
How to prevent periodontal disease
Periodontal disease is almost always preventable with proper care and a strict dental hygiene routine. In the early stages, it is also reversible. Some of the things you can do in order to prevent periodontitis include brushing your teeth well and flossing at least two times a day, using fluoride-containing toothpaste. A balanced diet is also a major factor in helping keep periodontal diseases at bay. Avoiding the use of any tobacco products also helps prevent peroiodontitis. Regular check-ups and cleaning by a dentist will keep your teeth at their healthiest best.