Periodontal disease refers to a set of inflammatory conditions that generally affects the gum tissue surrounding teeth. As a practicing periodontist in Humble, TX, I treat it all too often. A CDC study reveals that at least 47.2% of all Americans had mild, moderate, or severe periodontitis. This staggering number translates to over 64 million people. The study also showed that the prevalence of periodontitis increased with age. Adults above the ages of 65 reported a 70% higher incidence compared to younger Americans.
Symptoms of periodontal disease
The symptoms of periodontal disease will often depend on the severity. However, there are a few symptoms you can look out for. Here they are:
- Bad breath that won’t go away even after brushing your teeth
- Loose or sensitive teeth
- Red and swollen gums
- Tender gums that bleed regularly
- Teeth that seem longer
- Receding gums
- Pain when chewing
Gum disease is progressive
Periodontal conditions are categorized based on the severity. Gingivitis is often considered the mildest form of the disease. Chronic Periodontitis, on the other hand, is often much more advanced while rapid progression of gum disease is known as Aggressive Periodontitis. Here is an overview of these conditions.
Gingivitis is a mild and common form of gum disease. It can cause swelling of the gums, redness, and irritation. Early detection is critical. Without treatment, the condition can degenerate into severe and more chronic gum disease.
Gingivitis is generally caused by poor oral hygiene that encourages plaque to form on your teeth. This disease becomes apparent due to the presence of a sticky film of bacteria. If the plaque is not removed, it will start to harden forming tartar in the process. This tartar tends to cause gum irritation, especially around the base of the teeth. The risk of gingivitis may also increase due to the following factors:
- Smoking or chewing tobacco
- Old age
- Poor nutrition especially vitamin C deficiency
- Crooked teeth that are difficult to clean
- Dry mouth
Treatment for gingivitis may involve a few things. However, maintaining proper oral hygiene habits such as brushing at least twice a day and flossing may significantly reduce the risk. Don’t forget also the importance of regular dental visits.
Chronic Periodontitis is often the inflammation of the supporting gum tissue. It may also involve bone loss. The condition is characterized by receding gums and gingival pockets. Deterioration often occurs very slowly, but the effects will be visible over time. Chronic Periodontitis is the most common type of gum disease. It mostly affects adults.
Chronic Periodontitis is caused by long term plaque buildup or mild gum disease that goes untreated. Plaque buildup can affect anyone as long as you consume starchy and sugary foods. However, regular brushing can remove a significant amount of plaque. But there is always a small part that is left behind which is often removed at the dental clinic.
In cases where the condition is significantly advanced, deep cleaning, also known as scaling may be required. During the procedure, a dental hygienist will scrape away the plaque with special instruments. The teeth will also be polished just as during a
routine cleaning. Your dentist will also prescribe an antiseptic mouthwash or spray that you can use at home to combat the bacteria.
Aggressive Periodontitis is a rare form of periodontal disease. As its name suggests, the condition tends to be aggressive and can progress very rapidly. If left untreated, it may lead to loss of tooth attachment and the destruction of bone structure on the jaw. The risk of Aggressive Periodontitis may increase with the following factors:
- Poor oral hygiene
- Smoking and chewing tobacco
- Children with diabetes
- A family history of periodontal disease
- Obesity and excessive stress
- Use of illegal substances or drugs
Aggressive Periodontitis occurs when the gums, teeth, and surrounding tissue are infected with bacteria. This infection leads to plaque buildup. If the plaque is not removed, it will harden, creating a safe haven for bacteria. The bacteria then start to release toxins that damage the gums. The infection of gums spreads to the ligaments and bone.
Treatment for Aggressive Periodontitis is often done on a case by case basis and might include gum disease laser surgery. Your dentist will craft the best plan with you. Generally, the priority is to stop the progression of the disease and try to reverse it if possible.
Gum disease is a common condition that affects millions, but it’s preventable. The best way to prevent it is proper oral hygiene. Brushing your teeth at least twice a day, flossing, and regular dental checkups can go a long way in reducing the risk of these conditions.
My concern over the volume of periodontal disease in Humble TX is genuine. Don’t be afraid to face your fears and conquer this disease. Schedule today, and let us create a customized treatment plan for you.