Periodontitis, or gum disease, is an extremely common affliction, affecting more than 3 million Americans each year. It is a serious gum infection that can destroy the bone around your teeth, causing your teeth to loosen or even fall out. Yet many people may not know how to tell if their gums are healthy. The experts at Artistic Smiles are here to help you learn more.
Most people have heard of gingivitis - the inflammation of your gums due to bacteria living in plaque buildup on your teeth. People with gingivitis may notice that their gums bleed while brushing their teeth. Gingivitis itself is not a disease. It is reversible with good oral hygiene and professional care. However, if left untreated, it can advance to periodontitis, or gum disease.
Periodontitis occurs when the inner layer of your gum and jawbone pull away from your teeth. The pockets that are formed between your teeth and gums collect plaque and debris, becoming a breeding ground for bacteria. As plaque grows below your gumline, your body mobilizes your natural defenses: the immune system.
Unfortunately, in fighting the infection, your immune system produces proteins and enzymes that actually break down the soft tissue and bone holding your teeth in place. The bacteria also produce toxins that can worsen this damage. Your gumline is a battlefield, and your teeth become collateral damage.
As the disease progresses, gum tissue and bone are destroyed, deepening the pockets between your gums and teeth. Eventually, the material anchoring your teeth in place weakens to the point where your teeth become loose or even fall out.
What Are The Symptoms of Gum Disease?
Your healthy gums should be pale pink in color, feel firm to the touch, and fit snugly around your teeth. Unhealthy or diseased are swollen or puffy and may be bright red or purplish in color. They may feel tender or bleed when you’re brushing your teeth. Other symptoms of periodontal disease include bad breath, receding gums, new spaces between your teeth or a change in your bite.
What Causes Gum Disease?
Most cases of periodontitis are caused by the buildup of plaque - a sticky film composed of debris and bacteria. First, the plaque forms on your teeth, then hardens under your gumline into what is called a calculus. This causes gingivitis, which, if left untreated, leads to periodontitis. However, there are other factors that contribute to gum disease. Poor oral hygiene, tobacco use, family history of dental disease, hormonal changes, medications, and even chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes or HIV can increase your risk.
Are There Any Complications?
The most common complication of periodontitis is tooth loss. In fact, periodontitis is the most common cause of tooth loss in the US. However, periodontitis may also contribute to a wide array of chronic diseases, including respiratory diseases, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and even heart disease.
How Do I Prevent Gum Disease?
The best way to prevent gum disease is through good oral hygiene - brushing and flossing twice daily - and through regular professional cleaning and checkups.
If you or someone you love is worried about gum disease, the experts at Artistic Smiles are here to help. Call 424 781-1400 to book an appointment today!