Just like your house has a firm foundation, so do your teeth. When your gums are not healthy, your teeth and your oral health are in jeopardy. We also know that periodontal (gum) health also has a direct connection to your overall health, making six-month month visits to your dentist even more critical for your systemic health and well-being.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Also called gum disease, periodontal disease is an infection of your gums and the jawbone that supports your teeth. This condition occurs when excessive plaque buildup irritates your gum tissue and causes it to separate from your teeth. Bacteria then descends below the gum line where it affects your bone.
Because your gums and jawbone are the main support system for healthy teeth, if periodontal disease is not treated it will result in tooth loss. In fact, gum disease is actually the number one cause of tooth loss in American adults today.
The Stages of Gum Disease
Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease. Gingivitis typically doesn’t cause too much pain or very many symptoms at first, which makes it tricky to diagnose on your own. Some telltale signs of gingivitis are:
- Gums that are irritated, red, or swollen
- Gums that bleed when you brush or floss your teeth
- Chronic bad breath that you can’t get rid of
Periodontitis is the advanced stage of gum disease. In this stage, you will notice that your teeth begin to feel mobile and there may be discomfort when biting or chewing.
Treating Periodontal Disease
The good news is that gingivitis can often be successfully treated with a thorough professional cleaning and improvements to your home care routine. In many cases, this may even help to reverse gum disease.
Periodontitis requires a deeper cleaning called scaling and root planing to remove hardened plaque buildup, known as tartar. Some patients may require antibiotic therapy, and severe cases of periodontitis may require surgery.
The Oral-Systemic Connection
News that gum disease and other health concerns in the body are directly related has been at the forefront in the dental world. We now know that the bacteria that causes gum disease can enter the bloodstream, travel through the body, and contribute to other health concerns such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.
With the knowledge that your periodontal health affects your overall health and well-being, preventative care has never been more important. Visiting your dentist consistently every six months can help detect gum disease early on when it’s easier and more comfortable to treat, and before it takes a toll on your health.
If it’s time to schedule your next cleaning and checkup, please give Thomas Family Dentistry a call today.