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What Is Periodontal Disease And How To Prevent It

Periodontal disease, more commonly known as gum disease, is a serious infection that damages the soft tissue of the gums. The early stage of periodontal disease is known as gingivitis when the gums become swollen and may bleed. Without treatment, the bones that support teeth break down which can lead to tooth loss.

Furthermore, the bacteria responsible for the infection can enter the bloodstream and impact other parts of the body. Research shows that periodontal disease is linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.

The good news is that periodontal disease is preventable with proper oral hygiene. Keep reading to learn more about the signs and symptoms to look for, risk factors, and how to reduce your chance of developing periodontitis.

Signs of periodontal disease

  • Swollen or inflamed gums
  • Sensitive gums that bleed easily
  • Bright red or purple gum
  • Gums that bleed when brushing or flossing
  • Bad breath
  • Loose teeth
  • Painful chewing
  • Receding gums

What causes periodontitis

Periodontal disease typically develops when a build-up of plaque sits on the teeth without treatment. We have natural bacteria in our mouths that interact with the starches and sugars in the food we eat and forms plaque. When plaque hardens under the gumline, it’s referred to as ‘tartar’ and is more difficult to remove. Tartar is filled with harmful bacteria that can damage the teeth and gums, leading to decay and gum disease.

Eventually, plaque and tartar cause gingivitis which is a mild form of gum disease. As the disease develops, gum inflammation leads to pockets in between gums and teeth which fill with plaque, tartar, and bacteria. The infection causes tissue and bone loss and other complications, such as a compromised immune system.

Who is at risk for developing periodontitis?

Anyone can develop periodontitis, however, there are risk factors that can increase your chances of developing the disease which include:

  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • The presence of gingivitis
  • During pregnancy or menopause
  • Recreational drug use
  • Obesity
  • Vitamin C deficiency
  • Poor nutrition
  • Genetics
  • Medications that cause dry mouth
  • Health conditions that impact the immune system, such as diabetes, Crohn’s disease, cancer, and HIV/AIDS

How periodontal disease is treated

Unfortunately, once gingivitis has advanced to periodontal disease, it cannot be reversed. At Pro Grace Dentistry, our dentists can help you manage the disease and control infection. We do this with deep scaling and root planing, which is an extensive form of cleaning plaque bacteria and buildup.

How to prevent periodontal disease

The best way to prevent periodontal disease is by following a good oral hygiene routine. Brush your teeth every day twice a day for at least 2 minutes, floss once a day before bed, and limit your intake of sugary and starchy foods. Be sure to keep up with regular dental visits which include professional cleaning every 6-12 months, depending on the health of your teeth and gums and if you have certain risk factors.

If you’re due for a professional cleaning or dental exam, contact our team at Pro Grace Dentistry. We will make every effort to help you prevent gum disease and maintain excellent oral health.

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