Advanced gum disease, or periodontal disease, is one of the leading causes of tooth loss in adults. It can also cause bone loss, infection, “gum cavities” and severe pain. If damage is severe enough and infection is not controlled by conservative treatment and therapy, surgery may be required.
Per·i·o·don·tal (adj) – relating to or affecting the tissues (gums) that surround the neck and root of a tooth.
Serious But Stoppable
Although gum disease is terribly pervasive, it is also preventable. Conservative estimates report that up to 80% of all people suffer from some level of chronic gum disease. What’s worse is that this disease is responsible for up to 70% of adult tooth loss. Unfortunately, the early signs of gum disease are both silent and serious, requiring the trained eye of a dentist to detect, treat and arrest gum inflammation and infection. However, once arrested, you can prevent gum disease from recurring… simply by developing healthy hygiene habits.
Bacteria, Poor Choices, & Uncooperative Genes
Several factors contribute to periodontal disease, including plaque build-up, lifestyle choices and heredity. The most common and controllable factor is bacterial plaque – the sticky, colorless film produced by normal oral bacteria. Unhindered, they release toxins that break down the natural fibers holding your gums to your teeth, allowing even more bacteria and toxins to invade. Over time, this process can permanently damage or destroy the affected tooth, tooth root and even the jawbone! Further, plaque deposits quickly harden into calculus or tartar – a rough, porous, irritating substance that brushing does not remove.
Poor lifestyle choices can also affect the body’s ability to fight infection and irritation in the gum tissue area. Poor nutrition, stress, leukemia, AIDS and diabetes all reduce the body’s natural ability to ward off periodontal disease. Smoking and chewing tobacco also greatly irritate the gum tissue, inviting disease.
Some people are simply born with a low resistance to gum disease. All of this explains why we carefully check for the warning signs at every visit: red, swollen, tender or bleeding gums, gums pulling away from teeth, loose or separating teeth, pus between the gum and tooth, persistent bad breath, bite changes and/or a change in the fit of partial dentures. These symptoms are often overlooked by a guest increasing the importance of regular dental exams.