What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is the medical term for gum disease. It’s an infection that stems from bacteria living and multiplying in your gum tissue. Have you wondered why it’s so important for you to brush your teeth, floss, and visit your dentist twice a year? Besides keeping your teeth sparkling white, these habits prevent gum disease.
When you fail to brush your teeth each night and morning, food and other foreign particles get stuck between your teeth. The particles quickly turn into plaque—the sticky white substance you can brush off with your toothbrush. If the plaque is allowed to persist, it’ll harden and turn into tartar which your dentist can only remove. Plaque and tartar hide bacteria, and it starts to multiply under your gums. The first symptoms you’ll likely notice are red, swollen, and bleeding gums.
Your body notices this gum infection and tries to fight it. Your body’s immune response, coupled with the foreign bacteria, degrades your connective tissues and, eventually, your bone.
What is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease. It’s easily identifiable, and your River Edge dentist may comment on signs of gingivitis during your cleanings. Red, swollen gums at the base of your teeth indicate that you’re progressing down the gum disease path.
Gingivitis is caused by excess plaque and can be reversed by getting a thorough cleaning and developing a good oral hygiene routine. Brush your teeth twice per day, floss, and see your River Edge dentist twice a year. However, once your gingivitis progresses to its more severe form, periodontal disease, you’ll need the help of your dentist to treat it.
Symptoms of Gum Disease
Most adults in the US have some degree of gum disease. Some of the more common symptoms include:
- Red, swollen gums
- Tender gums
- Bleeding gums
- Persistent bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Teeth that seem to get longer
People with gum disease also sometimes notice that they are more susceptible to infections elsewhere in the body, experiencing frequent acne breakouts or getting every sickness “going around.” This is an anecdotal connection and not well established.
Are you experiencing signs of gum disease? Call (201) 343-4044 or make an appointment online today.
What Causes Gum Disease?
The number one cause of gum disease is poor oral hygiene. If you fail to take care of your teeth, gums, and tongue, bacteria-hiding plaque and tartar will build up along your gum line and cause periodontal disease. As such, gum disease is usually very easily avoided with proper oral hygiene habits.
Other causes of gum disease are:
- Tobacco: Smoking cigarettes, a pipe, a water pipe, hooka, cannabis, vaping, and chewing tobacco are all causes of gum disease. The easiest way to combat this is to simply avoid using these substances.
- Hormonal changes: Pregnancy and menopause can make you more susceptible to gum disease.
- Inadequate nutrition: Vitamin deficiency can cause gum disease
- Genetics: If you’re born with genetic factors that affect your immune and inflammatory responses, you’re susceptible to gum disease.
- Diseases such as diabetes, Chron’s, and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Medications that cause a dry mouth: A dry mouth is a breeding ground for bacteria that can cause gum disease.
- Obesity: While this is less understood, those with excess weight are sometimes three times more likely to have gum disease due to their body’s inappropriate inflammatory response.
Do you think you may have gum disease or are developing gingivitis? Visit your River Edge dentist to stop gum disease in its tracks. Call (201) 343-4044 or make an appointment online.
How Gum Disease Leads to Tooth Loss
Gum disease occurs when bacteria infect the small spaces between your teeth and gums. Colonies of bacteria living here secrete acids and other toxic chemicals that can irritate and damage your gums, separating them from your teeth and making more space for more bacteria to live. As bacteria penetrate deeper, they reach your jaw bone, and they begin destroying the bone and ligaments that secure your teeth. This is when you may begin to notice receding gums and loose teeth.
Your own immune system plays a major role in tooth loss—even more so than the bacteria themselves. As the infection becomes more severe, your body’s response to it becomes more aggressive as it kills the tissues and bones infected to stop gum disease.
When there’s insufficient bone to hold your teeth in place, they will fall out.
The Impact of Gum Disease on the Body
As a chronic infection, gum disease is a jumping-off point for infections elsewhere in the body. Infections can spread to your heart, lungs, and blood vessels. It’s associated with a high risk of heart failure, stroke, and erectile dysfunction. It has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight. The chronic inflammation associated with gum disease can interfere with your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, contributing to diabetes. Treating gum disease can reduce your medical expenses related to these conditions and reduce your risk of hospitalization for them.
Some gum disease bacteria have also been shown to hamper the body’s ability to fight cancer, though we’re not sure how much gum disease might impact cancer risk.
If you are looking for gum disease treatment in River Edge, NJ, please call (201) 343-4044 or email the River Edge Dental Center for General & Cosmetic Dentistry today for an appointment.