Periodontal disease is a condition that affects a lot of people all over the world, and The United States is no exception. Many adults in the US have some form of gum disease. One out of every two American adults aged 30 and over has periodontal disease, according to recent findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2012). Studies have found out that 47.2 % or 64.7 million American adults have mild, moderate or severe periodontitis, the more advanced form of periodontal disease. In adults 65 and older, prevalence rates increase to 70.1 %.
This oral health problem begins with bacterial growth in your mouth and may end with tooth loss due to destruction of the tissue that surrounds your teeth.
Plaque is the primary cause of gum disease. It is cause by the bacteria in our mouths. Plaque that is not removed by flossing and brushing can harden and form tartar. Only a dentist or a dental hygienist can remove tartar by doing a professional cleaning.
The longer plaque and tartar are on the teeth, the more harmful they become. The bacteria causes inflammation of the gums that is called “gingivitis”. When you are diagnosed with gingivitis, gums become red, swollen and can bleed easily. Gingivitis is the mild form of gum disease and can be reversed with daily brushing and flossing and by having your professional cleanings done. This form of gum disease does not include any loss of bone and tissue that hold teeth in place. When gingivitis is not treated, it can advance to periodontitis. In this form of gum disease, gums pull away from the teeth and form spaces (called “pockets”) that became infected. As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and more bone are destroyed. Eventually teeth can become loose and may have to be removed.
The third stage of gum disease is aggressive periodontitis. This means loss of tissue and bone and it may occurs in some areas of the mouth, or in the entire mouth.
Common risk factors
- Smoking or chewing tobacco.
- Hormonal changes for girls/women in puberty, pregnancy and menopause. Their gums are more sensitive and it is easier for gingivitis to develop.
- Cancer and cancer treatment.
- Poor nutrition such as a diet high in sugar and carbohydrates and low in water, will increase the formation of plaque.
- People with diabetes are at higher risk of developing infections, such as gum disease.
Symptoms of gum disease
- Bad breath that will not go away or bad taste in the mouth;
- Red, swollen or tender gums;
- Gums that bleed during and after tooth brushing;
- Loose teeth;
- Sensitive teeth;
- Formation of deep pockets between teeth and gums;
- Receding gums or longer appearing teeth;
- Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite.
The most important is to control the infection in your mouth. The treatment plan depends on the extent of the gum disease. Your dentist will recommend what is best for you, after an examination.
It is possible to have gum disease and no symptoms. This is one reason why regular dental checkups are very important. The sooner you discover this oral health problem, the better for you and your teeth.
Good dental care at home is essential to help keep periodontal disease from becoming more serious or recurring.
It is a fact that controlling gum disease can save your teeth. This is a very good reason to take care of your gums and teeth. Floss daily before going to bed, brush twice a day, eat a balance diet and do not forget about your regular visits to your dentist. These actions will assure you a beautiful smile for an entire life.