What is Periodontal Disease? How Can I Prevent it?
Periodontal disease and its related signs and complications are more common than you think. According to the American Dental Association (ADA) two-thirds of people over the age of 35 will progress to some stage of gum disease. With this in mind it is very important that people understand what is periodontal disease, so that they can spot the signs early on and protect their oral health.
If you allow gum disease to develop in your mouth and progress until it becomes periodontitis, then you are risking long-term dental health problems, such as tooth loss, and will probably undergo expensive and painful dental treatments. However, if you understand the basics about this condition, what causes it and how to prevent it, then you will be able to enjoy a high standard of oral health all your life. Fortunately, there are simple ways in order to avoid developing the condition.
What is periodontal gum disease?
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an umbrella term for an oral health condition that primarily affects your gum health. There are basically two stages of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontal disease. Gingivitis is the first, and milder, stage of gum disease. If this condition is not treated, then you are likely to experience a deterioration of your oral and gum health and will begin to see symptoms of periodontal disease.
Gum disease is the chronic out-of-control growth of destructive bacteria in the teeth and gum line. Our mouths are exposed to an onslaught of bacteria daily, introduced to our mouths through the food that we eat. Food particles get stuck between our teeth and around our mouths and bacteria feed on these and flourish. These bacteria release toxins that can, over time, damage the health of the gum tissue and cause disease.
When there are a lot of bacteria in the mouth, it combines with the saliva and produces a sticky, yellowish substance known as plaque. If this is not cleaned thoroughly, then the plaque becomes hard tartar, which is can only be remedied by a dental hygienist. When left untreated these are responsible for irritating the gum tissue and causing gum disease.
Bacteria and plaque need to be removed regularly by following a good oral health routine. In only two or three days plaque will convert into tartar under the gum line and this can lead to the beginning of gum disease.
Symptoms of Gingivitis
Although there are several symptoms and signs of gingivitis, many people do not spot them in time. Make sure you are alert for the following indications that your gum health is not what it should be:
- Persistent bad breath
- Bad taste in your mouth
- Red and swollen gums
- Bleeding gums after brushing teeth or eating crispy or hard foods
- Tender gums
- Gums that are darker than normal color.
It is important that you visit your dentist regularly for oral health check-ups as they are able to detect the early signs of gum disease before you are likely to notice anything. They can also provide you with professional advice about how to avoid developing the condition and how to best protect your overall oral health.
Symptoms of Periodontal Disease
When the symptoms of gingivitis are ignored, you are likely to eventually develop periodontal disease. While gingivitis can easily be treated and, in most cases, quickly reversed with no long lasting issues, periodontal disease is more serious. If you have developed this condition, then you urgently need to seek out professional dental care in order to restore your oral health. In some cases however, there may be some permanent damage.
Some of the signs of periodontal disease include:
- Very swollen and uncomfortable gums
- Persistent bleeding gums
- Receding gums – visible pockets between the teeth.
- Loose teeth
- Pus or abscesses
If you notice any of the above signs, then you need to visit your dentist immediately to receive a proper diagnosis and begin an appropriate treatment plan.
How to Prevent Gum Disease?
Fortunately, preventing gum disease and protecting your long term oral health is actually pretty straightforward. The key to preventing periodontal disease is to follow a stringent oral health routine every day.
Your oral health routine should consist of brushing your teeth at least twice a day, flossing and using periodontal rinse to kill residual bacteria and wash away food particles. In addition, you should see your dentist at least twice a year for a check-up. Your dental hygienist will be able to do a thorough clean to remove plaque and tartar. By following a good daily oral hygiene routine, you will remove most of the bacteria that cause gum disease to develop.
Periodontal disease can cause severe infection and tooth loss; however, you can easily protect your dental health by understanding what is periodontal disease, how to prevent it and by being able to spot the signs that your gum health is at risk. With a better understanding of the condition, far fewer adults will have to suffer from this potentially painful condition.
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