The Dangers of Periodontal Disease
Perhaps you’ve been recently diagnosed with periodontal disease or maybe your dentist has mentioned that you have gingivitis. Now you’re wondering, “Is gum disease really that big of a deal if my teeth feel just fine?”
Sadly, gum disease is an oral health problem that isn’t discussed often enough considering how detrimental it can be to your oral and overall health. While tooth decay and cavities often take the spotlight, it’s actually gum disease that has the most destructive potential behind it.
Let’s take a closer look at what gum or periodontal disease is, why it’s such a serious problem, and what you can do about it.
Understanding Periodontal Disease and Its Stages
There is often some confusion about what exactly periodontal disease is. Is it gum disease? Gingivitis? How does periodontitis fit in? Here is a rundown of each of these terms and what they mean.
Gum disease is the layman’s term for periodontal disease. They are used interchangeably and both describe a state of chronic inflammation or infection of the gum tissue.
Periodontal disease is the proper terminology for infected or “diseased” gums. You’ll often hear your dentist use this term the most when discussing your condition, especially if an infection is present.
Periodontal disease isn’t a specific disease, but a category of two specific conditions — gingivitis and periodontitis.
Gingivitis is how nearly all cases of periodontal disease begin. This condition is a state of chronic gum inflammation and can be described as a mild form of periodontal disease. At this early stage, patients experience some symptoms and discomfort, but the gum tissue isn’t yet infected.
Periodontitis is the most severe stage of periodontal disease. When gingivitis isn’t treated and inflammation persists, infection will eventually occur. Once the gums have become infected, permanent damage to the gums, teeth, and even the jawbone can occur. Periodontitis is extremely serious as it not only causes irreversible damage to your mouth, but the infection can also cause or greatly increase the risks of other bodily diseases and disorders.
Periodontitis causes anything from tooth loss to systemic disease
When discussing the dangers of periodontal disease, it’s typically periodontitis that is the culprit. While gingivitis is certainly not something to ignore, it doesn’t have the same destructive force as a periodontitis infection.
When left untreated periodontitis can cause:
As gum tissue recedes and erodes they no longer provide the support healthy teeth need. This loss of structure combined with infection and bacteria leads to damaged and loose teeth needing to be extracted. Restorative care will then be needed to replace missing teeth.
Loss of teeth and receding gums can cause teeth to shift out of place and in different directions. Abnormal movement of teeth easily leads to malocclusion, meaning a crooked or misaligned bite. Problematic malocclusion may need intensive restorative or orthodontic care to reverse.
Gum Tissue Loss
Infected gum tissue can erode away or need to be surgically removed as part of the treatment process. Gum recession and loss will need to be fixed with a gum graft to rebuild healthy soft tissue.
Jaw Bone Loss
Infection in the gums quickly works down to the hard tissue and bone within your jaw. Bacteria can eat away at the bone, causing it to shrink or become brittle. This also is a contributing factor in tooth loss. Bone loss can only be fixed with a bone graft.
The mouth is a very vascular area of the body, rich in blood vessels. Bacteria from periodontitis can leach through the thin skin in the mouth and get a free ride throughout your body through your circulatory system. Because of this, periodontitis is linked to either causing or exacerbating a number of systemic diseases and disorders, such as heart disease, kidney disease, dementia, diabetes, infertility, and cancers.
Signs That Gingivitis Is Evolving Into Periodontitis
Gingivitis often presents itself as minor to moderate gum irritation, tenderness, light bleeding while brushing and flossing, and halitosis. However, if your mild gingivitis begins to worsen, this is a clear sign that you’re headed toward periodontitis.
Some signs that this is happening include:
- Worsening bad breath
- Very red, swollen gums
- Visual signs of pus
- General mouth discomfort
- Sore teeth when chewing
- Receding gums
- Teeth feeling wiggly
If you notice this happening, it’s imperative that you seek help from your dentist right away.
How Periodontal Disease Is Treated and the Damage Reversed
The good news is that gingivitis responds very well to treatment. It is a reversible condition and you can reclaim healthy gums by following a thorough at-home dental regimen, using dentist-recommend products for periodontal health, and seeing your dentist for deep cleaning or periodontal therapy.
Periodontitis can also be healed, though the damage it causes isn’t reversible. In a case of periodontitis, you’ll need frequent, thorough cleanings that remove plaque, bacteria, and dead tissue from deep within the gum pockets. These techniques are called scaling and root planing. You may also need periodontal laser surgery as well as gum or bone grafts.
While periodontitis damage isn’t reversible, that doesn’t mean your smile can’t be restored. Prosthodontics like dental implants replace missing teeth and cosmetic care like porcelain veneers can help you achieve a beautiful, healthy smile once again.
Periodontal Therapy and Prosthodontics With Dr. Bentz
Dr. Bentz provides the whole gamut of periodontal care and prosthodontic solutions for patients with minor to extreme periodontal disease. This includes extensive periodontal therapy cleanings, laser gum surgery, stunning dental implants, and cosmetic dentistry enhancements.
You can begin gaining control over your gum disease today by calling Bentz Dental Implant & Prosthodontic Center or using this online form.