Periodontal disease (also known as gum disease) is the most prominent oral disease worldwide, however it is almost always preventable or treatable if detected in its early stages or through the maintenance of good oral hygiene. If you seem to be suffering with gums that are red, swollen and that bleed when you brush your teeth, it is highly likely that you are suffering with gum disease. To prevent the effects of gum disease from worsening, it is recommended that you book in for an appointment with your dentist Stevenage who can restore the health and comfort of your teeth and gums.
What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is an infection that is most commonly seen in adults. It occurs in the soft tissues that are responsible for holding your teeth securely in place. Periodontal disease is usually caused by a lack of oral hygiene maintenance, which leads to the formation of a sticky substance known as plaque that hardens on the surface of your teeth. In its early stages, periodontal disease is referred to as gingivitis and is characterised by swollen, red gums which occasionally bleed and teeth that become sensitive when eating or even drinking water. In its advanced stages, gum disease is referred to as periodontitis and can result in more serious issues such as severely bad breath, also known as halitosis, receding gums, loss of bone and in severe cases, tooth loss.
What causes periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria in the mouth which accumulate due to poor oral hygiene and the build up of food residue, namely sugar and starch. The bacteria infects the tissue that surrounds your teeth causing inflammation of the gum. When the bacteria remain on the teeth for a period of time, they begin to form a sticky film known as dental plaque which, if not cleaned thoroughly on a daily basis, can solidify to form tartar. Tartar is able to spread below the gum line, making it difficult to clean your teeth properly at home, so it is essential you contact your dentist or hygienist to remove any tartar for you urgently to avoid any permanent damage.
Additionally, there are multiple risk factors that can increase your likelihood of developing periodontal disease. These include, but are not limited to the following:
- Smoking – it has been proven that smoking weakens your immune system making it difficult to fight off any infections that occur in your gums. Smoking also affects your body’s ability to heal, so once your gums are damaged it takes longer or becomes difficult to heal even after professional treatments have been carried out.
- Disease – diseases or illnesses that make you immunocompromised such as cancer or HIV/AIDS can increase your risk of developing periodontal disease as your immune system becomes weak and is unable to fight infections that occur in your body regardless of how acute or severe they are.
- Genetics – your genes have an impact on how your teeth develop and how well your enamel works against bacteria. So unfortunately if you have inherited poor genes in this aspect you are at an increased risk of developing diseases and infections.
- Hormonal changes in women – periodontal disease can occur in women who are going through menopause and also women who are pregnant, as their hormone levels fluctuate causing issues such as a decrease in saliva production and bone loss in the jaw.
Prevention and treatment
Almost all oral diseases are avoidable, and, in most cases, the preventive methods are simple. Gingivitis can be avoided or treated through good oral hygiene and regular cleaning by a dentist. In order to prevent and control periodontal disease, it is crucial that you have regular visits to the dentist who can identify any premature signs or symptoms of the disease. Furthermore, brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing every day will ensure that you eliminate most of the bacteria in your mouth that is responsible for causing periodontal disease. Avoiding foods and beverages that contain a high sugar content and staying away from tobacco will subsequently keep your teeth intact, and your gums and bone durable enough to support them. If your teeth have reached a more advanced stage of periodontal disease, there is no need to worry as even the most severe cases of the disease can be treated using more extensive cleaning treatments or by taking medication specifically designed to combat the disease. Sometimes, corrective surgery or extractions may be necessary when the disease has progressed too far, however this can easily be avoided by always keeping an eye out for any warning signs.