Gum disease is an extremely common but preventable condition. You may be wondering, if it’s preventable then why is it so common? The lack of understanding, knowledge and consequences of the disease keeps it prevalent within our modern society – which does a relatively good job of stressing overall hygiene.

Periodontal disease is the formal term for gum disease – your dentist will likely use this term. In Latin, Periodontal means “around the teeth.” Reason being, the gum and the bones that support your teeth are the most effected by the disease. There are two forms of periodontal disease: gingivitis, which is the beginning stage and, periodontitis, which is the advanced stage.

What is it?

The beginning stages of gum disease is known as gingivitis. This is the inflammation of your gums due to the accumulation of plaque on or around your teeth. You can learn more about gingivitis here.

What happens if you can’t get gingivitis under control? You could develop the advanced stage of periodontal disease called periodontitis. Periodontitis takes much more work to treat and can have serious effects on oral health and even bodily health. The disease begins to drastically affect your gums and is now entering the supporting bone sockets around your teeth. Studies have shown that periodontitis can put you at a higher risk of heart attack, stroke and even respiratory infections.

What causes it?

Periodontal disease comes about when you ignore your dental hygiene. A lot of oral hygiene problems revolve around lack of knowledge and overall bad habits. Things like:

·         neglecting to brush your teeth

·         tobacco use

·         sugary or acidic food choices

·         neglecting to floss your teeth

·         alcohol consumption

·         skipping your 6-month cleaning

 

Your dentist will help you develop an oral health regimen that prevents the growth of oral infections such as Periodontal disease. Regular cleanings will substantially increase your oral health. There is no better team to work with in Middle Tennessee than Ricafort Dental Group. Be sure to request a dental visit with Dr. Ricafort’s team. Don’t wait, their schedule fills up quickly.

Signs and Symptoms

Periodontal disease can creep up on you if you are not paying attention to your oral hygiene. Due to plaque being almost invisible to the unaided human eye, you must be aware of any abnormal warning signs and symptoms that are occurring in your mouth.

Bad Breath Symptoms

Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is caused by lack of brushing and flossing resulting in food particles being left on your gums, teeth and tongue. This allows bacteria to form. Bad breath pertaining to periodontitis is normally severe.  It often takes many cleanings from a licensed dental hygienist to rid the mouth of all bacteria after diagnosis. Your hygienist may recommend that you come in for a cleaning every 3-4 months instead of every 6 months. Especially if there is serious neglect of oral health in which case, major tartar and calculus build up has occurred. These types of bacteria deposits must be removed with special dental hygiene tools to regain oral health.

Signs of Gingivitis

Gingivitis displays plenty of gum related symptoms that are easy to spot if you pay attention to your oral health. If you have gingivitis, you may notice your gums are:

·         swollen

·         bleeding

·         receding

·         red

·         tender

 

Signs of Periodontitis

Dentists can easily spot periodontitis through x-ray. A tell-tale sign of periodontitis is bone loss. When symptoms reach this point, a dentist can almost always tell if gingivitis has turned into something much more severe. Periodontitis symptoms can include:

·         sensitive teeth

·         loose teeth

·         bone loss (evident on x-rays)

·         longer appearing teeth

·         tooth pain while chewing

 

As stated earlier in this article, periodontal disease damages the areas around the teeth. The areas around the teeth are made up of gums and bone. When bacteria manage to eat away your gums and make it to your bone sockets, that’s when irreversible effects may occur. Periodontitis can cause your teeth to fall out when it is severe. This is why it’s extremely important to catch periodontal disease in the early gingivitis stage. This means visiting the dentist regularly to be examined by a dental professional.

Treatment & Prevention

Periodontal disease treatment is based on the severity of the specific case. A dentist will be able to inform you of the correct course of action after you have been diagnosed. The goal of all periodontal treatment plans is to remove all bacteria from around the teeth –  to halt the deterioration of your gums, supporting bones and teeth.

Less Severe Cases (Gingivitis)

A dentist may advise you to make sure you are practicing good oral hygiene and maintaining an oral cleaning schedule with your dental hygienist by visiting once every 3-4 months. Your dental hygienist will educate you on the following steps in creating a well-rounded oral hygiene regimen.

Good Oral Hygiene Practices

·         brushing your teeth twice a day

·         using an electric toothbrush

·         using a fluoride toothpaste

·         avoiding sugary foods

·         using a tongue scraper

 

·         flossing once a day

·         rinsing with anti-bacterial mouthwash

·         drinking water regularly

·         avoiding acidic foods

·         eating fruits and vegetables high in fiber

Severe Cases (Common Periodontitis)

A dental hygienist can treat common forms of periodontitis with a scaling and root planing, otherwise known as a “deep cleaning”. The hygienist will numb your mouth in order to remove all tartar and calculus that is causing surrounding bone to deteriorate.

Most Severe Cases (Advanced Periodontitis)

Your dentist may feel that referring you to a periodontist is the best course of action. A periodontist will perform surgery to restore bone and tissue destroyed by periodontal disease. Surgical measures are a last resort and are introduced so the disease does not cause any more permanent damage to the gums and bone.

Big Takeaway

If you practice a good oral hygiene regimen daily, visit your dentist every 6 months for cleanings and pay attention to your oral health you can avoid periodontal disease all together. If you do not know where to start, schedule a visit with us at Ricafort Dental Group. Dr. Ricafort will consult with you, evaluate your dental needs and develop a plan to restore your oral health. Sign up for an appointment or call 615-890-0474.