Do I Have Gum Disease?

Gum disease — clinically known as periodontal disease — is a common dental ailment that affects one out of every two American adults aged 30 and over. In fact, gum disease is the number one cause of lost teeth in adults in North America and Europe. However, there is more at risk than your teeth, periodontal disease has also been shown to increase risks of Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis, pancreatic cancer, diabetes, stroke, heart disease and more.

AH Smiles, a respected dental provider in Arlington Heights, IL would like to inform you about the signs of periodontal disease.  You may be surprised to learn you’re already experiencing some of them yourself.

What Is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal means “around the tooth” in Greek. Also referred to as periodontitis, it is a disease of the gum tissues that surround the teeth and the jawbone that secures the teeth in place. It begins with bacteria living in the mouth getting out of control, and, if untreated, can end with tooth and bone loss.

Causes of Gum Disease

The chief cause of periodontal disease is plaque-eating bacteria naturally living in your mouth that irritate your gums if not removed from between teeth and below the gum line.

Plaque is a clear, sticky substance that is formed when the saliva and food particles in our mouths combine together and stick to our teeth. The mouth-dwelling bacteria feed on the plaque and the food particles in it. However,  plaque that isn’t removed by brushing and flossing can harden and form tartar, which can irritate gum tissue, causing it to become inflamed and infected and recede from around your teeth.

Other factors that could lead to periodontal disease include:

  • Smoking/tobacco use
  • Hormonal changes (puberty, pregnancy, or menopause)
  • Certain illnesses
  • Genetics
  • Poor nutrition
  • Stress
  • Clenching or grinding teeth

Stages Of Periodontal Disease

Gingivitis is the stage of gum disease in which you experience inflammation of the gums without loss of bone.  At this stage it is mild and reversible and not all gingivitis progresses to periodontitis. At this point, plaque has accumulated on teeth and gums have become inflamed, but your teeth are still firmly planted in their sockets. However, if left untreated, gingivitis can lead to full-fledged gum disease.

Periodontitis is when the condition has reached the underlying bone and begun eroding it. The pockets created by gum inflammation deepen, allowing more gum tissue and bone to be attacked. Eventually, due to loss of jawbone support, the teeth will become loose and fall out.

What Are the Symptoms of Gum Disease?

  • Gums that bleed easily while brushing and flossing.
  • Swollen or tender gums.
  • Gums that pull away from teeth.
  • Changes in the way teeth fit together upon biting down.
  • Deep pockets between teeth and gums.
  • Loose or shifting teeth.
  • Pus between your teeth and gums.
  • Persistent bad breath or bad taste in the mouth.
  • New spaces developing between your teeth.

When You Should See a Dentist

The symptoms of periodontal disease can be painless and may not even be recognized as such. A periodontal evaluation complete with x-rays is the most reliable method of diagnosing gum disease so treatment can begin. Treating your periodontal disease earlier rather than later not only improves your oral health but can also improve your overall health.

Gum Disease Treatment in Arlington Heights, IL

Dr. Brent Engelberg and Dr. Jennifer Mullarkey of AH Smiles in Arlington Heights, IL want to help you prevent, diagnose, and treat periodontal disease. Having routine cleanings and check-ups combined with minimally invasive treatments will protect your teeth and gums from periodontal disease for years to come. Your bleeding may be a warning sign of periodontal disease so don’t wait to find out for sure.  Contact us online today to schedule an appointment or call (847) 230-9703.