Periodontal disease is a medical term for gum disease. Gums normally protect the base of the teeth and hold them to the bone. However, periodontal disease threatens the health of gums. Left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss.

What are the types of periodontal disease?

There are two types of periodontal disease: Gingivitis and Periodontitis. In gingivitis, the bacteria in plaque builds up, causing the gums to become red, swollen, tender, and bleed during and after tooth brushing. There is not a whole lot of intense pain; so many people don't get the treatment they need.When gingivitis (gum inflammation) is left untreated, it can lead to periodontitis (gum disease). When you have periodontitis, gums pull away from the teeth, leaving deep pockets where bacteria can grow and damage the bone. When the pockets deepen, more gum tissue and bone are destroyed. Symptoms of periodontitis include: gums pulling away from teeth, persistent bad breath, pus coming from the gum, a change in your bite and loose or shifting teeth.

How is periodontal disease treated?

For a mild case of periodontal disease, scaling ( removal of the plaque and tartar from above and below the gum line of all your teeth) is sufficient. You may need such a professional dental cleaning more than twice a year. If your periodontal disease becomes worse, then you will need both scaling and root planing. This is when plaque and tartar are scraped away (scaling) and rough spots on the tooth root are made smooth (planing). You may also need to take antibiotics. In some patients, scaling and root planing is all that is needed to treat gum diseases. However, surgery may be needed when the tissue around the teeth is unhealthy and cannot be repaired with nonsurgical options.

Common Risk Factors:

Bad Oral Hygiene: It is important to know and understand how to properly brush your teeth. The main goal of brushing is to remove any plaque that may lead to complications. If you’re unsure if your technique is proper or not, then ask your dentist to perform an example for you in the office. It’s also very important to floss at least twice a day (but preferably after each meal). Flossing removes food particles that, if remain stuck between your teeth, could lead to a harmful bacteria build-up.

Medications: Prescription drugs such as anti-depressants and birth control medication can both affect your oral hygiene. Always make sure your dentist knows what drugs you are prescribed to help them make an accurate assessment of your mouth.

Hereditary: Having a family history of dental problems can make you more susceptible to dental issues, even with excellent oral hygiene. If you are aware of a parent, sibling, or other relative who has a history of dental problems, then you should take extra care to make sure your teeth are in tip-top shape.

Age: As you get older, your gums and teeth naturally become more fragile and susceptible to disease. The best way to combat this is of course through consistent visits to your dentist and daily routine brushing and flossing.

Bad Habits: Tobacco smoking is never good for your mouth, or any smoke for that matter. Smoke dries up saliva in your mouth, which serves as a protective agent fighting off bacteria to help keep your mouth clean. Other habits such as grinding or clenching your teeth do not bode well for your teeth as they put extra stress on your gums.

Obesity: Poor eating habits often deprive you of important nutrients essential to maintaining your immune system, which is responsible for fighting off infections such as periodontal disease.

Stress: Similar to obesity, stress compromises the immune system making it harder to fight off various diseases including gum disease.

Gender: Men have a higher chance of developing gum disease than women, but the hormonal changes in women leave them more susceptible for gum disease to develop.

    Symptoms of Gum Disease:

  • Bleeding gums after routine brushing or flossing

  • Gums that are swollen, red, or tender

  • Loose teeth

  • Sensitive teeth

  • Bad breath

  • Changes in your bite or pain when chewing

  • Receding gums that expose the top part of your tooth

  • Mouth sores