In the most basic terms, gum disease is the growth of bacteria in your mouth. The disease eventually progresses to more advanced stages, attacking the gum tissue that provides stability to your teeth and attaches your teeth to your gums.
As bacteria spreads in your mouth, it creates a substance called “plaque” on the teeth. If plaque is not removed, it builds up and hardens into tartar, a firmer matter. This is very difficult to get off your teeth, as it is attached like glue, becoming much harder to scrape off. This stage is known as gingivitis.
During the initial stages of gingivitis, you will begin to notice your gums turning red, and you’ll see that you are bleeding when you brush your teeth. If treated quickly at this point, you will be able to save your teeth.
You can take preventative measures early on with a dedicated oral hygiene program, which includes routine professional cleaning appointments with your dentist. You should also make sure to brush your teeth at least twice a day, ideally after all your meals. You should also floss regularly. With a consistent oral program, you can reduce plaque and prevent gingivitis.
Signs and Symptoms
- Gums are pink and healthy-looking
- No bleeding
- Gum line is tight around the teeth; no pockets
- Gums are inflamed, tender and red
- Bad breath and bad taste
- Gums bleed when brushed or probed gently
- Bad breath and bad taste
- Slight bone loss
- More pronounced bleeding, puffiness and inflammation
- Gums start to pull away from the teeth
- Pockets of 4 millimeters form between teeth and gums
- Chronic bad breath and bad taste
- Tooth roots become exposed; sensitive to hot and cold
- Teeth may become mobile or loose
- Pockets over 6 millimeters deep between teeth and gums
- Severe angular and horizontal bone loss on X-ray
Gum Disease May Affect Your General Health
Tooth infections and gum inflammations caused by periodontal disease may be associated with cognitive decline and dementia.
The buildup of dental plaque serves as a breeding ground for bacteria that may reach the lungs through inhalation. Additionally, inhaling oral bacteria can lead to pneumonia.
Gum disease and tooth loss have shown to be linked with a reduction in bone mass (osteopenia).
Post-menopausal women are especially at risk for tooth loss-related severe osteopenia.
The heightened levels of estrogen and progesterone during pregnancy cause the gums to react differently to plaque bacteria. This reaction causes bleeding, swelling, redness or soreness in the gum tissue—signs of gingivitis. 60-70% of women will develop gingivitis during their pregnancy. This is called pregnancy gingivitis.
Adults who suffer from periodontitis may have an increased risk of stroke.
Chronic periodontitis may lead to bone loss, thus increasing the risk of oral cancer.
Periodontitis is associated with several diseases related to the cardiovascular system. Oral bacteria may cause problems with clotting in the cardiovascular system. Periodonditis also increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and fatal heart attacks.
People who suffer from type 2 diabetes are three times more likely to develop periodontal disease than are nondiabetics. This is because diabetes can alter the environment of the healthy mouth, contributing to bacterial growth. If diabetes is combined with smoking, the chance of tooth loss increases by 20 times.
Schedule your consultation by calling 815-439-2731 or visiting www.RMartinezDental.com