There is nothing worse than bad breath that will not go away, or gums that hurt so much you’re afraid to even brush your teeth. These symptoms could mean you have gum disease. While gum disease can seem insignificant at first, over time it can devastate the oral health of your entire mouth. That’s why here at Timothy H. Kindt, DDS we’re driven to protect your smile so it never fades for even a moment.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease, or as us dentists like to call it, periodontitis, is a bacterial infection that attacks not just the soft gum around a tooth, but the bone beneath as well. This causes your gum tissue to deteriorate and leads to your teeth loosening, and if not treated immediately, eventually falling out entirely. When good oral hygiene is not maintained, bacterial plaque accumulates on and around the tooth. When this plaque penetrates past the gumline and gets trapped in the gap beneath your tooth, infection occurs as the soft tissues become inflamed.
Periodontitis is a common disease yet is easily preventable if the patient practices good oral hygiene habits and gets regular oral checkups. At Timothy H. Kindt, DDS we like to remind our patients that by brushing and flossing twice daily and getting regular checkups with our dental team, you can help minimize your risk of developing this very serious disease.
Why Is Periodontal Disease So Dangerous?
Our mouths house a microbiome of their own, similar to the intestines. This is a vast ecosystem of complex bacteria. Similar to the gut and intestine, the different types of bacteria struggle for space in the region and thus cancel each other out to create a form of “balance” in the ecosystem. When the bacteria is in balance, the bad bacteria is unable to impact the gum tissue but ruining this balance creates an opportunity for the bad bacteria to break through the dental barriers posed before them, causing gum disease. Gum disease will further ruin the balance of bacteria. Periodontal disease is important because issues health-wise in your mouth can translate to other areas of your body, causing more problems.
Pathogens are often referred to as the root causes of such problems by non-medics. However, they are not even the major initiators of this disease. In fact, the disease-causing bacteria cause your body’s immune system to react in order to remove them. The white blood cells are “called” to eliminate the bad bacteria. However, during this step, the white blood cells release certain substances that not only eliminate the bacteria but also lay harm to your gum tissue in this process.
Effects of Periodontal Disease
There are many effects of gum disease and they can be redness and swelling of the gums to the complete and total destruction of the entire bony structure that supports your teeth. This is when major tooth loss will occur and is often extremely serious. Patients suffering from periodontal disease are also found to be more prone to dementia, cardiovascular disease, pregnancy complications, diabetes, and chronic respiratory disease. The major similarity in all of these instances is inflammation.
Are There Different Kinds of Gum Disease?
You have probably heard of gingivitis. Gingivitis is not technically gum disease, but it has similar symptoms - like inflamed and bloody gums - and can often lead to periodontitis when left untreated. Once periodontitis sets in, teeth start to become loosened as tissue and bone are infected and destroyed. Chronic gum disease is the most common form the infection takes and works more slowly, gradually destroying the supporting tissues. Aggressive periodontitis moves much faster and can occur in patients who are normally in good health.
How Do I Know if I Have Gum Disease?
Is it sometimes difficult to chew or even talk? Are your teeth sensitive? Does it hurt when you brush your teeth or floss? Is there blood in the sink afterward? Is your breath bad even right after you have brushed? All of these could mean that you have gum disease. Many people have periodontitis and do not even realize it.
What Causes Gum Disease?
Gum disease most often occurs because of a lack of regular brushing and flossing, which allows plaque to build up to dangerous levels. But that is not the only way you might put yourself at risk for gum disease. Smoking, misaligned teeth, and pregnancy can all bring a heightened risk of periodontitis. Gum disease can also happen for reasons completely out of your control, like diabetes, medications, and genetic factors.
How Can I Prevent and Treat Gum Disease?
Prevention of periodontal disease is often easier said than done. There are many things that can cause gum disease and therefore, many things that you can do to prevent it. There is not one specific thing that eradicates periodontal disease, but a combination of many steps geared towards reducing inflammation and cleaning procedures to reduce the chances of bacterial infestations.
The best way to prevent gum disease is by brushing the recommended two times a day, two minutes each time, and flossing at least once a day. Do not brush too hard as this can irritate the gums and erode your enamel, but make sure to pay attention to not just your teeth. You should also focus on brushing your gums. If you have dental implants or tooth gaps, interdental brushes are recommended to clear food particles that get trapped in these structures and crevices.
Once gum disease has set in though, our dentists look to get the infection under control. We start with a thorough cleaning and gum disease screening. Based on an evaluation of your overall oral health, we work with you to decide on further action. We recommend getting dental cleanings at least twice a year, as well as monthly checkups. We can remove bacteria-harboring plaque and spot the first signs of periodontal disease. We always advise our patients not to smoke. Regarding periodontal disease, people who smoke are more likely to develop this condition. Lastly, always seek professional help immediately after you begin spotting any symptoms. These signs include pockets of pus, swollen, bleeding and receding gums.
No More Sensitive Gums!
To learn more about preventing periodontal disease, please contact Timothy H. Kindt, DDS by calling (480) 939-5818 today. We can help take care of all of your periodontal questions and concerns.