While you might be tired of hearing dentists warn against the risks of tooth decay, there’s a good reason: tooth decay leads to gum disease, and gum disease has serious health implications. Over half of American adults over 30 have gum disease, clinically referred to as periodontal disease, and it’s the leading cause of tooth loss in adults in the developed world. That’s why Dr. Datta Malyavantham of Ridgetop Dental in Reston, VA keeps talking about tooth decay!
What Is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease, the disease of gum tissues around the tooth, occurs when bacteria in the mouth cause an infection in the gums. It can go beyond the gums into the jawbone that anchors the teeth in place, eventually leading to tooth loss and serious infection.
Causes of Periodontal Disease
The main cause of periodontal disease is bacteria in the mouth that form plaque and erode tooth enamel, usually due to poor oral hygiene. Plaque is a clear, sticky substance made of oral bacteria and leftover food particles that needs to be removed by daily brushing and flossing. If left alone, plaque will destroy teeth and gum tissue.
To get rid of this bacteria, the immune system releases cells that cause areas around the teeth to become inflamed and swollen, just like they would if you had a cut on your arm. As the gums swell, they pull away from the teeth and create small pockets that allow more bacteria to take up residence.
Other factors that could lead to periodontal disease include:
- Poor nutrition
- Hormonal changes
- Smoking/tobacco use
- Clenching or grinding teeth
- Certain illnesses
Stages Of Periodontal Disease
If you see blood when you spit after brushing, you have the first stage of gum disease, which is gingivitis. This inflammation of the gums is mild and reversible, and not all gingivitis leads to periodontal disease. Over time, however, gingivitis can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.
Periodontal disease is when the destruction has reached the underlying bone. The pockets created by gum inflammation deepen and more gum tissue and bone are affected. Eventually, due to loss of support, the teeth can become loose and fall out.
What Are the Symptoms of Periodontal Disease?
- Blood after brushing teeth
- Swollen or tender gums
- Loose or shifting adult teeth
- Tooth movement when biting down
- Pus between teeth and gums
- Persistent bad breath or taste in the mouth
- New spaces in between teeth
When You Should See a Dentist
Most people don’t know they have periodontal disease. At minimum, you should see your dentist every 6 months for a periodontal evaluation with X-rays. If it has been a while since you’ve seen your dentist, especially if you have any of the symptoms described above, make an appointment to see a dentist soon. Taking care of gum disease now will save you more significant dental treatment later on.
The Ridgetop Dental team in Reston, VA can help you prevent, diagnose, and treat periodontal disease. Regular cleanings and minimally-invasive treatments will keep your teeth protected from periodontal disease for the long haul. Contact us online today or call (571) 313-7010 to schedule your appointment.