Gum disease (also called periodontal disease) is an infection of the periodontal tissues (gums and bone) that are responsible for supporting the teeth. The infection is caused by bacteria growing on the teeth near the gum line. Gingivitis is characterized by a sore, swollen gums that may bleed easily. Left untreated, gingivitis can advance to periodontitis. At this stage, patients gums recede creating pockets between the gum and the teeth. This stage can also be painful. Periodontitis is the leading cause of tooth loss among American adults – even more so than decay.
Periodontal disease has been associated with a number of risk factors including poor brushing and flossing habits. The risk of developing gingivitis or periodontitis is higher for those who have systemic diseases like heart disease, as well as conditions like diabetes and AIDS. Other factors that may contribute to the development of periodontal disease include stress, genetics, crowded teeth, faulty dental restorations, and the use of certain medications that may cause dry mouth. According to the Centers for Disease Control, women are also at an increased risk for periodontal disease when they are undergoing hormonal changes, such as with menopause or pregnancy.
You may have gingivitis or periodontitis if you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above. However, the only way of knowing for sure whether you have a periodontal disease is via a professional dental exam. Many patients with periodontal disease so not have symptoms in the early stages so it’s very important to keep up with regular dental exams so any problems can be identified early.
The good news is that the Estero Bay Dental team offers treatment for periodontal disease and, with proper treatment and home oral care, its progress can be stopped. Minor cases of periodontal disease are usually treated with a thorough cleaning and topical antibiotic. If, however, your periodontal tissues have begun to deteriorate and your gums have begun pulling away from your teeth, you may require a more complex treatment. At your Estero office, your dentist and dental hygienist will monitor the health of your gums, educate you on how to address any existing or emerging problems, and offer recommendations for treatment to resolve any issues.
Avoiding gum disease is one of the important reasons it is so important to brush after every meal and floss at least once a day. You can also prevent periodontal disease by avoiding tobacco and getting twice annual professional dental cleanings.