Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is an infection of the gum and bone tissue surrounding your teeth and is the primary cause of tooth loss next to fractures and decay. Gum disease is a chronic infection with different levels of severity and like most other chronic diseases, develops slowly and is often not painful. Many patients are not even aware of its existence until its too late or its discovered during a routine exam.
Unfortunately, like most infectious bacterial diseases, gum disease can be passed between members of a family. For example, a mother with periodontitis can pass it to her children or a husband can pass the infection to his wife or partner. In healthy adults with proper oral hygiene the infection is often resolved before causing periodontal disease, however, the constant reintroduction of the pathogens and bacteria can increase the risk of developing a chronic gum disease in your loved ones.
Periodontal disease generally has two stages defined as: gingivitis vs. periodontitis.
- Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease and is accompanied by red or swollen gums that bleed easily. Gingivitis is readily treatable and if diagnosed and treated early, it can be resolved without any long term significant effects.
- Periodontitis is the result of untreated gingivitis that has become a chronic illness. Periodontitis has multiple stages depending on the level of severity and the amount of irreversible gum and bone damage done to the mouth.
Factors that can increase your risk of periodontal disease and its transmission:
- Smoking and chewing tobacco
- Living with someone who has periodontal disease
- Certain types of medication such as: chemotherapy medications, oral contraceptives, steroids, anti-epilepsy drugs, calcium channel blockers.
- Crooked teeth that cause food and bacteria traps
- Old and leaking fillings or crowns
If you suspect that either you or a loved one has periodontal disease visit your dentist. Some common symptoms can include:
- Bleeding gums
- Gums that are red, swollen, or tender
- Recession and sensitive teeth
- Persistent bad breath also known has halitosis or a bad taste
- White or brown buildups and stains around the gum line and teeth
- Loose teeth that easily move to your touch
Depending on the severity gums disease can be treated in a number of ways:
- Non-surgical periodontal therapy, also knows as Scaling and Root Planing (deep cleaning)
- Periodontal or Osseous surgery and Diode laser gum treatment
- LANAP Laser or guided Tissue Regeneration
Gum disease is a readily preventable disease that can be eliminated by regular dental checkups. Neither you or any of your loved ones should ever loose a tooth or suffer from this silent and chronic illness. By following some simple steps such as proper and regular brushing, flossing between your teeth, a low sugar balanced diet, and regularly scheduled dental visits, you and your family and keep your smile healthy and beautiful.