What is Gum Disease, also known as Periodontal Disease or Periodontitis? Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums around the teeth. It can also include the bone. That is where the root word, “perio” comes from, meaning around. “Dontal” is a reference to teeth.
A lot of time and effort have been invested in determining what causes periodontal disease. It is now widely acknowledged that the numerous varieties of bacteria present in dental plaque are primarily to blame. We are just starting to understand the impact this affliction in your gums can have on your overall health.
Surprisingly, it isn’t strictly limited to problems with your teeth and mouth. Various studies indicate there is a link between gum disease and heart disease. Researchers discovered a moderate connection between tooth loss (a sign of poor oral health) and coronary heart disease in this study.
What is the cause of gum disease?
Bacteria are responsible for periodontal disease. The bacteria that causes it is present in the sticky film known as dental plaque. When this bacterial film builds up, it can cause all sorts of problems including:
- Bleeding gums
- Tooth loss
All of these problems are early signs of periodontal or gum disease, also known as gingivitis.
What is gingivitis?
Gingivitis is the initial stage of periodontal disease, an infection that affects the gums. Think of it is a milder form of gum disease. Gingivitis’ effects can be reversed with treatment. However, once gingivitis advances to the more severe form of full fledged periodontal disease, it can only be managed from there – the effects cannot be reversed.
What are symptoms of gum disease?
The symptoms of gum disease include:
- Loose teeth
- Red/swollen/bleeding gums
- Chronic bad breath
- Pain when chewing or sensitive teeth
- Receding gums
What are other risks for gum disease?
Periodontitis may be caused by a number of factors in addition to bacterial build-up. It may be caused by a variety of factors, including medicines, other illnesses, and eating habits. Additional risk factors include:
- Poor nutrition
- Crooked or crowded teeth
- grinding teeth
- Tobacco use
- Systemic diseases (including but not limited to diabetes)
What is the difference between a dentist and a periodontist?
In the most basic terms, a dentist focuses on teeth, gums, and other parts of the mouth, whereas a periodontist focuses more on the gums and the bone that supports them. The periodontist generally sees severe, complicated situations that only a specialist can treat. Both would have graduated from dental school. However, a periodontist completes an additional 3 years of post dental school training. If you develop periodontal/gum disease, you should see a periodontist for your condition.
What is the best way to prevent gum disease?
Good oral hygiene is the key to prevention. Brushing and flossing daily as well as other forms of supplemental care will help to prevent gum disease. Regular visits with your dentist are important too. Not only to check on potential issues that may be developing but also to get a routine cleaning. The cleaning you get at the dentist office from a dentist or dental hygienist is very important. It will help to remove the hardened deposits on your teeth and around your gums. They give you a cleaning that you simply cannot achieve on your own.
Hopefully this article helped to answer the question, what is gum disease, and some of the ways you can fight against it.