What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is caused by gingivitis left untreated. Over time, plaque will build up beneath the gum line, irritate the gums, and can progress into a more serious disease if left untreated. You should be aware of the early warning signs of gingivitis and periodontal disease as they are treatable and reversible and caught early. Periodontal disease can be controlled with scheduled checkups at your dentists’ office.
Preventing Periodontal Disease
You should always practice good oral hygiene along with visiting your dentist frequently. If you know you’re predisposed to gum disease you should visit your dentist more often. Brushing and flossing every day will remove most of the buildup on your teeth. However, your dentist is able to keep plaque from becoming a more serious problem with professional cleanings in areas you are unable to reach.
Irregular brushing and dental visits put you at risk of developing dangerous plaque below the gum line. Harmful bacteria in the plaque are then protected from brushing and if not removed can cause inflammation and swelling. If left completely untreated, the swelling continues and will eventually cause your gums to form pockets around the teeth. These pockets cause it to be more difficult to clean plaque and buildup.
The Cause of Periodontal Disease
It is now known that various bacteria in the mouth are the cause behind this illness. It is also widely known that diseases of the mouth directly affect the rest of the body.
Gum Disease Risk Factors
There are many factors that can contribute to a higher risk of developing gum disease. Things like medications, oral habits, and other diseases can increase the chances.
Genetics – The number one risk factors is genetics, and we effectively have no control over this.
Poor Nutrition – A good diet contributes to a healthy immune system which in turn promote healthy gums.
Stress – Stress weakens the immune system and makes it significantly harder for your body to fight infection.
Teeth Grinding – This habit won’t directly cause periodontal disease. Teeth grinding will however, lead to more severe symptoms if your gums are already inflamed. The force placed on the teeth by this habit tends to break down the periodontal bone and ligament. Everyone grinds their teeth occasionally but, if the problem persists, your dentist will be able to fabricate a custom guard for your mouth.
Crowded Teeth – You may have crowded teeth for a variety of reasons, whether that is from braces, bridgework, or misaligned teeth. Anything that makes it harder to brush or floss between the teeth can contribute to the development of gum disease. Your dentist will be able to show you the best way to clean your teeth, particularly the difficult to reach areas. For those with braces, there are flossing tools that may help. If you suffer from crowded teeth without braces, you may consider orthodontic care to straighten your smile.
Tobacco Use – Smoking significantly increases the risk of developing periodontal disease. The longer an individual smokes, the greater risk they pose. Not only will smoking increase your chances of periodontal disease, it will also cause the disease to be more resistant to treatment.
Hormonal Imbalance – Both puberty and pregnancy can change the makeup of the mouth and temporarily increase the risk of developing gum disease.
Medication – Medications like antidepressants, high blood pressure, and diuretics can all cause dry mouth. Without a protective layer of saliva, plaque is more likely to accumulate under the gum line. Be sure to ask your doctor if any medications you’re taking can cause dry mouth or an enlargement of the gums.
Diseases – Studies have shown that some diseases make it more likely for an individual to develop gum disease. For instance, diabetes makes it more likely for that individual to suffer from periodontitis and increases the chance that the disease will be severe. Other diseases like HIV, leukemia, and inflammatory bowel disease also increase the risk.
Periodontal Disease is Preventable
Periodontal disease can be controlled if you take the proper precautions. One extremely important thing you can do is start to build healthy oral habits. Habits like brushing your teeth following meals will remove debris from food and the plaque trapped between the gums, along with brushing your tongue! Another healthy oral habit to develop is flossing at least once a day to remove food particles and plaque between the teeth and along the gum line. Developing healthy oral habits and visiting your dentist frequently will do wonders for controlling periodontal disease. If you have any questions or concerns, or wish to schedule an appointment with a qualified dentist, use our online contact form or call us at (239) 394-1004.