Do you suffer from halitosis (bad breath)? Are your teeth moving? Do you have generalized toothache? You may have gum disease or periodontal disease. In fact, 75% or more of North Americans over 35 years of age have some form of periodontal disease, which makes it one of the most common infections today. It is also one of the main causes of tooth loss in adults.
What is gum disease or gingivitis?
If your hands bled when you wash them you would be concerned. Yet many people think it is normal for their gums to bleed when they brush and floss.
Swollen and bleeding gums are early signs of a bacterial infection of your gums. This early stage is called gingivitis or gum disease. It may be reversed with good oral hygiene and regular dental visits.
If gingivitis is left untreated, the infection will spread and destroy the structures that support your teeth in your jawbone.
What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is an infection of the bone and the gums. If left untreated, eventually your teeth can become so loose that they have to be extracted.
What causes periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria in dental plaque, when dental plaque is not cleaned adequately. The occurrence of periodontal disease is increased by a number of factors including genetics, smoking tobacco or other substances, misaligned or crowded teeth, braces, grinding the teeth, stress and medications.
Symptoms of periodontal disease:
- Bad taste that comes back after brushing
- Chronic halitosis or bad breath
- Black triangles between the teeth
- Gingival recession otherwise known as loss of gums height
- Pus between the teeth
- Loose teeth
- Toothache or gum ache
Recent research has linked periodontal disease to multiple general health problems:
- Atherosclerosis and heart disease — Gum disease may increase the risk of clogged arteries and heart disease. Gum disease also is believed to worsen existing heart disease.
- Stroke — Gum disease may increase the risk of the type of stroke that is caused by blocked arteries.
- Diabetes — Diabetic patients are more likely to develop periodontal disease, which in turn can increase blood sugar and diabetic complications.
- Respiratory disease— Gum disease may cause lung infections and worsen existing lung conditions when bacteria from the mouth reach the lungs.
- Osteoporosis- Studies suggest that osteoporosis may lead to tooth loss because the density of the bone that supports the teeth may be decreased, which means the teeth no longer have a solid foundation.
- Cancer- Researchers found that men with gum disease were 49% more likely to develop kidney cancer, 54% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer, and 30% more likely to develop blood cancer.
- The hygienist will do a thorough examination and will measure your gums.
- You will then have a consultation with the dentist who will explain the extent of your periodontal disease.
- The dentist will establish a treatment plan that is adequate for you.
- Deep cleaning or root planning of your gums may be necessary. The hygienist will clean the portion of your teeth above the gums. The dentist will clean the root of your teeth that is below your gums. They will both use vibrating instruments, as well as an antibacterial mouthwash to disinfect the gums.