If you have been told you have periodontal (gum) disease, you’re not alone. More than 49 percent of the people in the United States live with some form of gum disease. For those 65 or older, that number jumps to more than 70 percent.
Gum disease is not just an issue with the mouth either. Research has shown that people with gum disease (when compared to those without it) were more likely to develop heart disease or have difficulty controlling blood sugar.
Also, women with gum disease were more likely than those with healthy gums to deliver preterm, low birth weight babies. So gum disease may be fairly common, but it’s not something to take lightly.
Call the office of Dr. Tab A. Boyle in Lancaster, CA at 661-524-8457 to make an appointment for an exam.
Causes Of Gum Disease
What causes gum disease? For starters, our mouths are full of bacteria. This bacteria, along with food particles, forms a sticky film on the teeth called plaque. You can brush and floss regularly and that will keep most plaque away but some will remain on your teeth.
If that plaque remains, it will harden into tartar, a substance that can only be removed by a dentist or dental hygienist. The longer plaque and tartar are on teeth, the more harmful they become. They will cause inflammation of the gums that is called gingivitis.
In gingivitis, the gums become red and swollen, and they can bleed easily. Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease and can usually be reversed with daily brushing and flossing, and regular cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist.
When gingivitis is not treated, it can advance to the much more serious condition of periodontitis. With periodontitis, gums pull away from the teeth and form pockets that become infected. The bacterial toxins and your body’s natural response to infection start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold your teeth in place. If not treated, the bones, gums, and tissue that support your teeth will become destroyed. This can lead to your teeth becoming loose and having to be removed.
Risk Factors For Gum Disease
There are many risk factors for developing gum disease. They include:
- Smoking. Smoking is one of the most significant risk factors associated with gum disease. Smoking also makes treating gum disease a little trickier.
- Diabetes. People with diabetes are at higher risk for developing many infections. Gum disease is one of them.
- Hormonal changes. Hormonal changes in girls and women can make gums more sensitive. This sensitivity can make it easier for gum disease to develop.
- Other illnesses and their treatments. Diseases such as AIDS and its treatments can also negatively affect the health of gums, as can treatments for cancer.
- Medications. Medications that have dry mouth as a side effect can add to the risk of gingivitis. That’s because saliva has a protective effect on the mouth and without enough of it, the mouth is vulnerable to infections such as gum disease. Also, some medications can cause abnormal overgrowth of the gum tissue which can make it difficult to keep your teeth and gums clean.
- Genetics. Some people are just more prone to severe gum disease than others.
Symptoms Of Gum Disease
Symptoms of gum disease can include:
- Bad breath (that is long-lasting)
- Red, tender, or swollen gums
- Bleeding gums
- Pain when chewing
- Loose teeth
If you have any of these symptoms, rest assured that there is hope at our office! First, Dr. Boyle will start with a deep cleaning treatment. He uses the scaling and root planing method to remove plaque from your teeth.
Scaling removes the hardened plaque from around and underneath your gumline, giving your body a chance to fight off the infection in your gums. Root planing involves smoothing rough spots on your exposed tooth roots to prepare them for new gum tissue growth in that area. These treatments will help restabilize your teeth and gums and protect them from further damage.
Regular dental visits, and good oral hygiene, can help keep gum disease at bay. By seeing us twice a year, we can make sure that tartar doesn’t cause permanent damage to your teeth and gums.