Known clinically as periodontal disease or periodontitis, gum disease is one of the most common dental ailments, affecting one out of two adults over 30. It is also the leading cause of lost teeth among citizens of developed countries and can lead to an increased risk of serious health problems such as Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, pancreatic cancer, stroke, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Fortunately, you can regain control of your oral health and prevent gum disease from jeopardizing your health. Dr. Brent Engelberg and his team at AH Smiles would like to offer some information to help you take steps to protect your oral health.
What Is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontitis (meaning around the tooth in Greek) is the disease that begins in the soft tissues of the gums that surround your teeth. If this infection is left untreated, it can spread from the gums to the jawbone, leading to erosion of bone tissue and eventually tooth loss. The infection-causing bacteria can also spread to other areas of the body such as the lining of the heart or the brain, with potentially catastrophic results.
What Causes Gum Disease?
Bacteria thrive in our mouths due to the wet and dark environment although most of it harmless. These naturally-occurring microscopic life forms combine with leftover food particles and mucus on the teeth to form a clear sticky substance called plaque. The plaque that isn’t removed by brushing and flossing hardens and forms a crusty, yellow, irritating substance called tartar.
The immune system releases the body’s defensive cells to try to remove the tartar, causing inflammation in the gums around the teeth. As the gums swell from the inflammation, they pull away from the teeth, which creates small pockets that allow more bacteria to settle in.
Gum disease is not always the result of neglecting one’s oral hygiene. Other factors that can lead to periodontal disease include smoking, poor nutrition, stress, teeth grinding, or even hormonal changes during natural life events such as pregnancy or menopause.
What Are the Symptoms of Periodontal Disease?
- Chronic bad breath or constant bad taste in the mouth
- Swollen, tender, or bleeding gums
- Bleeding gums while brushing or flossing
- Loose or shifting teeth
- Pus between teeth and gums
- New spaces between teeth
Stages Of Periodontal Disease
The first stage of periodontal disease — gingivitis — is mild and reversible with treatment. Not all gingivitis develops into gum disease. At this stage, your teeth are still firmly planted in their sockets, but plaque has built up on the teeth and the gums are becoming inflamed and irritated. Removing the tartar and paying special attention to these areas when brushing and flossing from this point onward can reverse gingivitis. Bleeding gums are often a sign that gingivitis has set in.
The condition is considered to be full-fledged periodontal disease when the infection reaches the underlying bone, causing damage to the tissue there. The pockets around teeth created by the inflammation of gum tissues deepen and more gum tissue and bone are exposed and affected. Eventually, due to loss of viable support from jawbone and gum tissue, the teeth can become loose and fall out.
When You Should See a Dentist
Many people don’t realize they have gum disease until it is too late, which is one reason why making regular appointments at your dentist’s office for examinations and cleanings is so important. X-rays allow your dentist to see the structure of your teeth below the gums and into the roots of the teeth to ensure everything is healthy and your teeth are firmly in place. In most cases, gum disease can be prevented with a conscious effort to keep up with daily at-home oral hygiene and routine dental appointments, which can have a positive effect on your oral health and your overall health.
Gum Disease Prevention in Arlington Heights, IL
Dr. Brent Engelberg of AH Smiles can help you prevent, diagnose, and treat periodontal disease. Regular cleanings and check-ups combined with minimally invasive treatments can safeguard your teeth and gums from periodontal disease for years to come. Don’t wait to find out if your bleeding gums are an early sign of gum disease! Schedule your consultation with us online at our office in Arlington Heights, IL or call us at (847) 230-9703.