Periodontal disease affects half of Americans over age 30, yet most people don’t even know they have it. This disease of the gums is the leading cause of tooth loss in the developed world, and has also been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and other systemic health problems. Since many people already have it and don’t know, take some time to learn about the signs of periodontal disease with the Arroyo Center for Aesthetic Dentistry in Washington, DC.
What Is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal is the clinical term for “around the tooth.” It’s also referred to as periodontitis, and it is the disease of the tissues that surround the teeth, and the jawbone that anchors the teeth in place. It starts as a result of bacteria breaking down teeth and can end with tooth loss.
Periodontal Disease Causes
Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria that damage teeth. Bacteria combines with mucus and other particles, like leftover food, to form plaque. Over time, plaque accumulates on teeth and the bacteria eat away at the hard exterior of the teeth called enamel. Plaque that isn’t removed by brushing and flossing forms tartar, which is hardened onto the surface of the teeth and is difficult to remove.
Our bodies respond to excess oral bacteria the same way they would with any other infection: the immune system sends defense cells to the area and causes the gums to become swollen, inflamed, and sometimes painful. As the gums swell, they pull away from the teeth, causing pockets that allow more bacteria to settle in.
Some diseases, like heart disease, or smoking or poor nutrition can also cause periodontitis, so patients with these conditions need to be sure they maintain good oral hygiene.
Periodontal Disease Symptoms
- Loose or shifting teeth
- New spaces developing between teeth
- Bleeding gums after brushing or flossing
- Pus between teeth or gums
- Persistent bad breath or bad taste in the mouth
- Deep pockets between teeth and gums
- Gums that pull away from the teeth
- Tender or swollen gums
When You Should See a Dentist
Periodontal disease is very common, and most people don’t even know they have the beginning stages of it. A highly-trained and experienced dentist will be able to recognize gum disease by performing a physical examination and X-rays. Early detection and prevention is the best way to keep periodontal disease at bay.
The dentists at the Arroyo Center for Aesthetic Dentistry are here to help prevent and treat periodontal disease. To schedule an exam with one of our Washington, DC dentists, call (202) 525-6913 or schedule online today!