Periodontal disease is a progressive degenerative condition that can lead to bone deterioration and tooth loss when untreated. It begins with the inflammation of the gum tissues that surround and support the teeth, and is caused by harmful bacteria residing in the mouth. Gum disease is reversible in the early stages, but cannot be completely cured if it progresses to a more serious condition.
Causes of Periodontal Disease
Gum disease can be caused or exacerbated by a variety of factors, including:
- Poor dental hygiene
- Tobacco use
- Genetic predisposition
- Pregnancy and menopause
- Chronic stress
- Poor diet
- Diabetes and other medical issues (including respiratory disease, heart disease, arthritis, and osteoporosis)
- Teeth grinding
- Medication (including contraceptives, heart medication, anti-depressants, and steroids)
Types of Periodontal Disease
There are several types of periodontal disease. All require immediate treatment by a periodontist to halt the progression of your gum disease and preserve your gum tissue and supporting bone structures. The most common types of periodontal disease are:
- Gingivitis – Gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontal disease. It is caused by toxins in plaque, and can lead to more severe forms of the disease. At this stage, gum disease is easily reversible through a combination of professional cleaning and good oral hygiene. Dentist may recommend antibiotics or medicated mouthwashes to kill any remaining bacteria and promote the healing of the gums.
- Chronic Periodontal Disease – Chronic periodontal disease is characterized by inflammation below the gum line and the progressive destruction of gum and bone tissue. This form of periodontal disease cannot be completely cured, but the progression of the disease can be halted through scaling and root planing in combination with antibiotic treatments. Common treatments include pocket reduction surgery and tissue grafting.
- Aggressive Periodontal Disease – Aggressive periodontal disease is characterized by the rapid loss of gum tissue and supporting bone tissues. Patients with this form of periodontal disease will likely require surgical intervention. This form of gum disease is difficult to halt and treat.
- Periodontal Disease Related to Systemic Conditions – Periodontal disease can be a symptom of other medical conditions. Depending on the condition, this form of gum disease can behave like periodontal disease, working quickly to destroy your oral tissues. Heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory disease are the most common systemic conditions associated with periodontal disease. Many medical conditions can also intensify and accelerate the progression of gum disease.
- Necrotizing Periodontal Disease – Necrotizing periodontal disease progresses rapidly, and affects periodontal ligaments, gum tissues, and the alveolar bone. It is extremely rare, and is associated with HIV, immunosuppression, malnutrition, chronic stress, and smoking. Our dentist will consult with your physician in treating this form of gum disease. Common treatments include scaling and root planing, antibiotics, medicated mouth washes, and fungicidal medicines.
Signs Symptoms of Periodontal Disease
Common symptoms of periodontal disease include:
- Easy or unexplained bleeding of the gums
- Painful gums
- Unusually red or swollen gums
- Longer-looking teeth
- Halitosis (bad breath)
- Changes in your bite
- Loose teeth
- Pus oozing from between the teeth
If you notice any of these signs of periodontal disease, schedule an appointment with our dentist as soon as possible. Please also remember that periodontal disease can progress without any signs or symptoms, making it extremely important that you continue to visit our dentist regularly. Routine dental exams can help us identify periodontal disease and begin providing treatments as quickly as possible.
Periodontal disease is diagnosed by your dentist or dental hygienist during a periodontal examination. This exam should always be part of your regular dental checkup. Will we check your gums for bleeding, inflammation, tooth mobility, and periodontal pockets to determine if you have gum disease, and if so, which type of the disease you have. We will then create a treatment plan to help you manage your periodontal disease and begin regaining your oral health.