Periodontal disease

Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, affects more than 64 million adults in the United States. It is a chronic bacterial infection that can lead to pain, infection, and loss of bone and teeth. The bacteria that cause periodontal disease can be spread through saliva during kissing or sharing of utensils.

Unfortunately, periodontal-related problems are often discovered after they have persisted for an extended period of time. Proper oral hygiene, daily dental care, and regular dental checkups with professional cleanings will minimize the risk of periodontal disease.

The effects of periodontal disease can be damaging to your overall health. Through proper preventive care and oral hygiene, you can avoid problems associated with periodontal disease.

Common problems associated with gum disease:

  • Bad breath
  • “Long” teeth (receding gum lines expose the root portions of your teeth and cause root decay)
  • Discolored or deteriorating tooth structure
  • Gum depressions (holes in between the teeth in the gum tissue)
  • Infected gum line (discoloration or inflammation of the gum tissue)
  • Tooth movement and/or tooth loss.
  • Swelling, infections, and pain due to loose teeth

Common risk factors contributing to periodontal disease

  • Smoking.  This is the most significant risk factor and it can decrease the chances for successful treatment.
  • Age. The risk of developing periodontal disease increases as people get older. Over 70% of people over the age of 65 have periodontal disease.
  • Medications. Certain over the counter and prescription medications such as antihistamines and decongestants can reduce the flow of saliva making the patient more susceptible to gum disease and decay. And then there are medicines that can cause abnormal overgrowth of the gum tissue which in turn can make it difficult to keep teeth and gums clean- anticonvulsant (phenytoin), immunosuppressant (cyclosporine A), and various calcium channel blockers (nifedipine, verapamil, diltiazem)
  • Diabetes and systemic diseases. Periodontal disease, in turn, can negatively affect diabetes control. Cardiovascular disease and rheumatoid arthritis can also worsen the health of the gums.

Our hygienists are very skilled at helping to identify and treat periodontal disease. We take the health of our patient’s gums very seriously. At each cleaning appointment your hygienist will measure and evaluate the health of your gums around each and every tooth. If there are concerns about your gum health your hygienist and dentist will explain the concern and discuss recommended treatment to help you keep your teeth.