Periodontal disease (commonly called “gum disease”) is a primary cause of tooth loss and is the number one disease in the world. In fact, 86% of the population in the United States exhibits some form of periodontal disease, ranging from mild gingivitis to advanced periodontitis affecting all ages, not just senior citizens.
Periodontal disease is a silent disease and most often there are no warning signs. It can take many months or even years for symptoms to develop. Once a person is aware of symptoms, the disease has usually progressed beyond the early stages. Common warning signs of periodontal disease include bleeding, red and swollen gums, receded gums, pain, loose teeth and bad breath. We’ve written a blog discussing more of the causes here.
Periodontal disease develops as a result of the chronic build-up of high levels of harmful, destructive plaque containing bacteria under the gums and around the teeth. These bacteria flourish inside the gum pocket that surrounds each tooth, resulting in chronic infection and inflammation, as well as erosion of the jawbone. The infection spreads, weakening the tissues and ligaments surrounding the teeth.
When left untreated, what started as localized gum infection and inflammation will result in unhealthy consequences in many organs of the body. Bacteria and mediators of inflammation are carried by the blood and move throughout the body. These destructive materials are recognized to be the root of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, pregnancy complications, kidney disease, certain cancers, as well as many other conditions and medical diseases.
Depending upon the severity of your disease we may recommend a surgical or nonsurgical approach of treatment. The nonsurgical approach is used for cases of moderate-mid severe cases. Antibiotics may also be a tool used in treatment. It is extremely important to floss, brush, clean your teeth well on a daily basis, and maintain regular professional dental cleanings, especially if you have ongoing medical conditions.
With these alarming facts about the dangers of gum disease, it is even more alarming to know that although more than 86% of Americans suffer from some form of periodontitis, only 3% of these Americans seek gum treatment and regular ongoing preventive care.