Have you recently been experiencing red, swollen, or irritated gums? Have you been neglecting to brush your teeth, and noticed a sticky film near the bottom of each tooth? Are your teeth feeling loose, or have persistent bad breath? All of these symptoms and more could be signs of periodontal disease, a very serious condition that affects the gums. If not treated quickly, it could lead to pain, sensitivity, tooth loss, and more.
Periodontal disease is an infection of the teeth and gums, as well as the bone that surrounds the teeth. If left untreated, it causes supporting bone to be lost from around the teeth. Periodontal disease is the number-one cause of tooth loss in the United States today. There are three stages to periodontal disease—gingivitis, periodontitis, and advanced periodontitis.
Plaque, a sticky film of food and bacteria, forms constantly on teeth. If it isn’t removed daily, it begins to harden and forms tartar (calculus). In this early stage, before bone loss has occurred, the gums become red and swollen; this is gingivitis.
As the plaque and tartar work their way down below the gum line, the gums begin to separate away from the teeth, forming pockets. Once a pocket has formed, the process accelerates, as new, even more destructive types of bacteria begin to populate the pocket. If the tartar isn’t removed by dental professionals, your body’s defensive reaction to the infection produces enzymes that cause the loss of supporting bone; this is periodontitis.
Over time, if periodontitis continues unchecked, this bone loss continues. Eventually, so much bone is lost that some of the teeth begin to become loose, which will finally result in tooth loss. This is advanced periodontitis.
Did you know that people with gum disease are four times more likely to be afflicted with Heart Disease than people who don’t? Recent studies at The University of Minnesota confirm that a chronic infection in your mouth (which is what Periodontal Disease is) allows the bacteria to enter your bloodstream. These bacteria may cause blood clots and block your arteries, possibly even triggering a heart attack.
Other studies have shown that plaque bacteria entering the bloodstream through infected gums may also cause a potentially fatal heart disease called infective endocarditis. This is a bacterial infection which causes the sac around the heart to become inflamed.
Research has also found that bacteria from the mouth can be breathed into the lungs, causing respiratory diseases. Diabetics are also more likely develop periodontal disease, which leads down a slippery slope of blood sugar and other complications.
Brushing and flossing are two of the obvious ways to keep periodontal disease at bay. Your goal should be to get into those hard-to-reach places, so food and bacteria don’t become trapped in your mouth.
Having your teeth professionally cleaned by a dentist ensures that any plaque that builds up on your teeth is cleaned off, giving you a clean slate.
Be aware of any bodily health conditions or habits that could be increasing your risk for periodontal disease, such as diabetes, smoking, or a poor diet. If you’re not sure, feel free to contact us for an appointment where you can learn about periodontal disease prevention.
Are you experiencing the symptoms that were mentioned above? It’s not too late to clean up your mouth for a better oral health. Contact us today to schedule an appointment or cleaning with Dr. Stearns. You can have your questions answered and any symptoms diagnosed. Keep your smile beautiful by keeping it clean in Englewood, NJ.