Periodontal disease is a common dental ailment that affects one out of every two American adults that are 30 years old and older. It’s no small thing. In fact, periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults in the developed world. But it affects more than your teeth, periodontal disease has also been linked to Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis, pancreatic cancer, diabetes, stroke, heart disease and more! You may be wondering, “What are some periodontal disease symptoms?”  You may be surprised to learn that you already experiencing some of them.

What Is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal means “around the tooth” in Greek. Periodontal disease, also called periodontitis or simply gum disease, is the disease of the gum tissues surrounding your teeth and the jawbone that anchors the teeth in place. It begins with bacteria in the mouth that leads to infections in the roots of teeth and the gums and, if untreated, can end with tooth loss.

Causes of Periodontal Disease

The main cause of periodontal disease is leaving bacteria in plaque untreated. These bacteria in our mouths combine with mucus and other particles to form plaque on our teeth. The plaque that isn’t removed by brushing and flossing solidifies and forms tartar.

To kill the bacteria, our immune systems release defensive cells that cause areas around the teeth to become inflamed. As our gums swell, pulling away from the teeth and forming little pockets that more bacteria can settle in.

Other factors that can lead to gum disease include:

  • Smoking/tobacco use
  • Hormonal changes (such as puberty, pregnancy, or menopause)
  • Certain illnesses
  • Genetics
  • Poor nutrition
  • Stress
  • Clenching or grinding teeth

Stages Of Periodontal Disease

Inflammation of the gums without loss of bone is called gingivitis.  It is a mild and reversible form of periodontal disease, but not all gingivitis progresses into gum disease. Plaque builds up on our teeth and our gums become inflamed, but our teeth are still firmly planted in their sockets. However, if this is left untreated, this gum inflammation can lead to gum disease.

Periodontal disease is when the destruction has begun to affect the underlying bone. The pockets created by inflammation of gums around the teeth deepen and more and more gum tissue and bone are affected. Eventually, from the loss of gum support, the teeth can become loose and fall out.

What Are the Symptoms of Periodontal Disease?

  • Gums easily bleed while brushing and flossing.
  • Swollen or tender gums.
  • Gums that pull away from teeth.
  • Changes in bite.
  • Deep pockets between teeth and gums.
  • Loose or shifting teeth.
  • Pus between your teeth and gums.
  • Persistent bad breath or bad taste in the mouth.
  • New spaces developing between your teeth.

When You Should See a Dentist

Periodontal disease isn’t always painful; some people don’t even know they have it. A periodontal evaluation done with x-rays is the best way to diagnose and treat gum disease. If it’s been a while since you’ve been to the dentist or if you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, schedule an appointment soon. Taking care of your periodontal disease now not only improves the health of your mouth and teeth but can also positively affect your overall health.

Dr. J. Stephen Hoard in New Bern NC wants to help you prevent, diagnose, and treat periodontal disease. Regular cleanings, check-up’s and minimally invasive treatments should be enough to protect your teeth and gums from periodontal disease. However, your bleeding gums might be a sign of gum disease. Don’t wait to find out! Contact us online today to schedule an appointment or call 252.507.0373.

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