We are all taught to brush our teeth and wash our hands at an early age. Taking proper care of your gums is an equally important lesson.
Gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontal disease. There are several symptoms of gingivitis.
- Bad breath.
- Receding, swollen and tender gums. Teeth may appear longer than normal.
- Bleeding when brushing your teeth.
- Teeth may begin to wander causing increased spacing between teeth.
Gingivitis is fairly easy to treat when caught early. If left untreated it can progress into more severe forms of periodontal disease.
Periodontitis is the most severe type of gum disease. At this stage, the pockets between the gum and the tooth become infected and inflamed. Untreated, the connective tissue between the teeth and gums begins to break down and the teeth may become loose or need to be removed.
Health and Risk Factors
There appears to be a direct correlation between periodontitis and other health issues. Periodontal disease is commonly found in people diagnosed with dementia, diabetes and some heart conditions. However, it is often difficult to determine if the disorders are caused by the infected gums or if the periodontal disease occurs because the patient is unable to perform proper dental hygiene.
Certain conditions or lifestyle habits may contribute to the risk of developing periodontal disease.
- Poor oral hygiene habits.
- Smoking or using chewing tobacco.
- Chronic alcohol or drug abuse.
- Hormonal changes related to pregnancy or menopause.
- Diseases such as leukemia or diabetes.
Periodontal disease is easily prevented by practicing good oral hygiene. Brush and floss your teeth daily. Maintain routine dental appointments for cleaning and early detection of periodontal disease. Inform your dentist of any medical conditions or medications you are using that may impact your dental health.
Eliminating existing infection is generally the first mode of attack for treating periodontal diseases. This may be accomplished by antibiotics that are generally delivered by pill or oral rinse.
Once the infection is controlled your dentist may suggest a deep cleaning. This is also referred to as scaling and root planing. Scaling is scraping the accumulated tartar from above and below the gum line. Root planing is a procedure used to smooth the rough textured areas located on the tooth root where germs grow.
Surgery or extraction may be indicated if the disease is severely progressed.