Having periodontal disease is not a death sentence. It can be treated successfully. As a matter of fact, periodontal (gum) disease has many forms and a variety of harm levels. It could be as simple as a mild case of gum irritation or as drastic as serious bone disease and tooth loss. Most people experience some form of it during their lifetime and the progression or stopping of it depends on how well you take care of your teeth before, during and after the appearance of periodontal (gum) disease.
Plaque and Tartar
Our mouths are full of thick, sticky, colorless, fats, bacteria, mucus, and food particles that make up plaque which covers the teeth and causes decay. Brushing, flossing and professional cleaning can all remove plaque from the teeth. If plaque is not removed it becomes hardened on the teeth and is called tartar. Brushing and flossing does not remove tartar. Tartar must be removed by professionally cleaning. If it is not removed, it causes periodontal (gum) disease.
As the time goes by, tartar causes more and more damage to the teeth, gums and bones of the mouth. Gingivitis is the first sign that trouble is afoot. When tartar causes gingivitis the gums become red, swollen and painful. They may also bleed. When caught at this stage, brushing, flossing and a simple professional cleaning can stop it in its tracks before there is any bone damage or tooth loss.
If gingivitis is not caught it, most often progresses to periodontitis. During this phase of the disease the gums pull away from the teeth and leave a pocket that fills with infection. The infectious bacteria then delves below the gum line and intrudes into bone. The body’s own response to infection and the toxins in the bacterial begin to break down the bone and connective tissue eventually causing tooth loss and bone destruction.
Gum disease doesn’t usually manifest until age 30 – 40. Men are more prone to periodontal (gum) disease. There are now some new ideas on the horizon for stopping this disease by targeting the molecular receptor that periodontal bacteria use to start the disease. In tests it has shown to stop and prevent periodontal (gum) disease in mice.
There are several risk factors that can increase the chances of periodontal (gum) disease developing. Smoking is one of the most common risk factors. It also lowers the chances of treatments being successful. Some hormonal changes in women and girls can also make gums sensitive and more susceptible to gingivitis. Diabetes is another risk factor. People with this disease are at a higher risk for developing infections anywhere in the body, including the gums. Certain medications can also make a person more susceptible as well as some predisposition by genetics.
The best way to prevent periodontal (gum) disease is to simply brush, floss and take care of your teeth as we have always been taught to do. Visit a dentist regularly to keep gum disease in check and your mouth healthy and happy.