Lots of people assume that if their teeth look nice and white, then they probably have a healthy mouth. While it is important to have strong teeth without any cavities, periodontal disease is a far greater risk to teeth. The easiest way to keep your gums in great condition is by visiting us regularly here at Avery’s Creek Family Dentistry. With the proper dental care, periodontal disease or periodontitis is completely avoidable. As your dental care providers, we can make sure you receive the dental services required to keep your gums in the pink.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection affecting the gums, as well as the ligaments and bone surrounding your teeth. You may also hear periodontal disease referred to as gum disease. Every day, a sticky plaque biofilm builds up over the surface of your teeth and gums. This plaque contains bacteria that irritate and infect your gums. If plaque isn’t removed, it soon hardens into calculus and will eventually cause inflammation. It is this inflammation that destroys the gums, ligaments and bone. Unfortunately calculus is so hard it can only be removed during a professional dental cleaning.
It is an extremely serious condition that is the most common reason for tooth loss in the world. What makes it worse is that periodontal disease is also known for being a ‘silent’ disease. Often the early symptoms of gum disease are overlooked. This allows the disease to progress until it is much harder to treat. While the early stages of periodontal disease are completely curable, it is a very different matter when the disease progresses.
Advanced Periodontitis Can Become Chronic
During the later stages, periodontal disease is often chronic, meaning treatment will be ongoing. Instead of treatment being quick and non-invasive, you’re more likely to require regular dental appointments simply to control gum disease. The risk of losing teeth is far greater, and treatment will be more complicated and expensive. What’s even worse is the way periodontal disease can impact your general health. Over the past few years there has been significant research into the connection between periodontal disease and other serious health conditions. These include diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain types of cancers, rheumatoid arthritis and even dementia.
How Can Periodontal Disease Affect My General Health?
Periodontitis is an inflammatory condition and it’s thought the inflammatory nature of this disease can affect general health. When your gums are strong and healthy, they create a seal around your teeth that prevents bacteria from your mouth getting into your bloodstream. If your gums are weak and diseased, mouth bacteria can soon get into your bloodstream where they can travel freely around your body. This is the problem with periodontal disease as it allows these bacteria to go on to create new sites of inflammation just about anywhere in your body. The exact connection between periodontitis and other serious health conditions isn’t yet known, but it’s clear there is a link. If you have any systemic diseases like diabetes then periodontitis could worsen your health. The presence of periodontitis may also increase your risk of developing health problems. Looking after your gums will help to protect your general health.
What Are the Symptoms of Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease can cause a range of symptoms. Initially, you might begin to notice your gums bleed slightly when you brush or floss. Without treatment, they may begin bleeding more frequently and will look slightly red or swollen. Your gums might hurt when you press them lightly. As the disease takes hold, your gums will begin to recede. This has the effect of making your teeth appear longer than before, even exposing the tooth roots. By this stage, your gums will fit less snugly around your teeth. As they begin to pull away and recede from your teeth, this creates deep pockets. These pockets are called periodontal pockets and they harbor bacteria and can be tricky to keep clean. Not surprisingly, this makes the problem even worse and allows gum disease to really begin to take hold. By the next stage you may have a persistently nasty taste in your mouth and bad breath. It’s possible your teeth may have begun to loosen as the infection destroys the ligaments and bone holding them in place.
Picking up Any Early Signs of Periodontal Disease, a Condition Called Gingivitis
Gingivitis is the very earliest stage of periodontal disease. Although you might not have noticed any symptoms, our local dentist can soon pick up on the earliest signs of gingivitis. When you come to visit us for your regular dental exam and dental cleaning, we will closely examine the condition of your gums. The nice thing about early detection of this disease is that gingivitis is easily curable. We can treat this condition before it causes irreversible damage to your gums. Often treatment is as simple as professionally cleaning your teeth and we can offer advice on how to improve oral care at home. Afterwards, all you need to do is to make sure you brush your teeth thoroughly at least twice a day and that you floss once-a-day. Within just a few weeks, your gums should begin to look and feel healthier and stronger.
Who Is More at Risk of Developing Periodontal Disease?
Anybody can develop gum disease if they fail to brush and floss regularly. However, some people are more likely to develop gum disease than others. If you have health problems that affect your immune system then your risk may be higher. This is because your body will be less able to fight a gum infection. Hormonal changes can also increase the risk of gum disease. Women are more likely to develop gum disease during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy and the menopause. This is because these hormonal changes can increase the sensitivity of gum tissue towards plaque. Increased sensitivity can lead to inflammation in the gums and there is even a condition called pregnancy gingivitis.
What Is Pregnancy Gingivitis?
Pregnancy gingivitis is caused by increased sensitivity of the gum tissue to plaque bacteria. This can lead to the gums becoming red and inflamed and they may bleed more frequently. It can affect women any time after the second trimester of pregnancy. Pregnancy gingivitis is just one of the reasons why we thoroughly recommend women get a checkup, preferably before becoming pregnant. We prefer to keep a close eye on moms-to-be so we can check for any signs of pregnancy gingivitis and can provide the appropriate treatment. It is even more important to come and see us if you already have active gum disease as it could affect your unborn child. Unfortunately, periodontitis has been linked to an increased risk of preterm birth and low birthweight babies.
Please Take Action If You Think You Have Gum Problems or Signs of Gingivitis
If you are ever worried about your gum health or need a dental exam or a cleaning, please contact us. Our dentist here at Avery’s Creek Family Dentistry can soon determine if you have any early signs of gum disease. We especially welcome nervous patients who may not have visited a dentist for a while. Our local dentist will make sure you receive extremely gentle dental care and we can provide a treatment plan to help restore your gum health. Please don’t ignore your dental health as early treatment could save your teeth and will help protect your general health. It is particularly important to come and see us if you already have health problems that could affect your gum health or vice versa.
What about Treating Periodontal Disease?
Advanced periodontal disease is much trickier to treat and may require a combination of nonsurgical and surgical procedures. The aim is to remove as much of the bacterial infection in the gums as possible. This will help the gums to heal more easily so they eventually begin to fit more snugly around your teeth. In cases of advanced periodontal disease, we might need to refer you to a specialist called a periodontist. We always want to make sure you see the best dentist for your needs. A periodontist is a dentist who has completed several years’ additional training in diagnosing and treating conditions affecting the gums and other structures surrounding your teeth. We will collaborate closely with them to make sure you get the best treatment available to help restore gum health.
If I Have Advanced Periodontal Disease Will I Lose Teeth?
There is a risk of tooth loss with advanced periodontal disease. We will do everything we can to make sure you do not lose teeth and there are many different treatments available that may help you. These include sophisticated bone grafting and gum grafting techniques that can be used to help restore lost tissues. If we cannot save your teeth, then there are options available for their replacement including dental implants.
Preventing Periodontal Disease
It’s estimated around half the adult population will develop some form of periodontal disease during their lifetime. You don’t have to become part of this statistic as our gentle dental care will help keep your gums strong and healthy. When combined with good oral care at home, this should be sufficient to keep your gums free from disease. Everybody visiting our practice is assessed for their risk of gum disease. For example if you have certain health conditions then your risk may increase and we could suggest more frequent professional cleanings to reduce this risk. By working closely with you, we can help prevent this disease from occurring.
Please don’t risk your smile or your general health, as you can avoid gum disease. Let us show you how easy it is to gain and maintain healthy gums. Call Us Today on (828)-676-2144
Avery’s Creek Family Dentistry serves Avery’s Creek, Arden, Ashville, Oak Park, Fletcher, Royal Pines, Biltmore Park, Biltmore Forest, Bent Creek, Fairview, Beaverdam, Candler, Naples, Mills River, Enka Village, Woodside Hills and the Buncombe County area.