What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease, commonly called gum disease, is an infection of the gum tissue supporting your teeth. Periodontal disease attacks your gums just below the gum line, causing the tissue to break down. If left untreated, gum disease can result in infections and ultimately tooth loss. Additionally, severe untreated gum disease can increase your risk of other health conditions.
If you are suffering from a toothache, it is possible that you have a dental cavity, but many patients are unaware that they are equally in danger of periodontal disease. If your gums are in poor condition and you do not seek treatment, you may develop a periodontal disease which can lead to a periodontal abscess.
What causes gum disease?
Periodontal disease is most often caused by the buildup of plaque on your teeth. Plaque is a filmy substance composed of bacteria. Over time, the plaque that is not removed from your teeth by brushing and flossing will harden and become tartar. If tartar builds up below the gum line, it can cause an inflammation or infection, which ultimately becomes gum disease.
Hormonal changes, illnesses such as cancer, HIV or diabetes, smoking, and having poor dental hygiene habits can also contribute to the development of gum disease. Some patients even have a genetic predisposition and are more likely to develop periodontal disease than other patients.
Symptoms of Periodontal Disease
The early stages of gum disease are often painless and lack any obvious warning signs. As a result, it is important to visit our Drs of Smiles dentists twice a year for your regular checkups. We can diagnose and treat any periodontal disease you may experience while it is still in its early stages. As your gum disease becomes more severe, you may notice some of the following symptoms:
- Bleeding gums
- Red, swollen, or tender gums
- Receding gum line
- Formation of deep pockets between teeth and gums
- Changes in the way the teeth fit together when biting
- Changes in bite strength and tension
- Chronic bad breath
- Loose or shifting teeth
- Persistent bad taste in the mouth
- Changes in tooth color
Causes of Bleeding Gums
The most common cause of bleeding gums is poor oral hygiene. Drs. LeSeuer and Dodaro can diagnose the cause of your condition and provide the proper treatment before gum disease jeopardizes your long-term oral health. Besides gum disease, there could be other potential causes of bleeding gums including:
- Brushing too hard
- Improper flossing technique
- Poorly fitting dentures
- Hormonal changes during pregnancy
- Eating coarse food items
- Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura
- Vitamin K deficiency
- Use of blood thinners
TREATMENT FOR BLEEDING GUMS
Bleeding gums are generally a sign that you are not caring for them properly. The first step in preventing or treating bleeding gums is to brush and floss regularly, making sure you do so thoroughly but gently. If your bleeding gums are caused by an infection or inflammation of the gum tissue, you must eliminate the source of the bacteria causing this infection. In cases of serious infections, you may require antibiotics.
If you are unable to stop your gums from bleeding by maintaining thorough oral hygiene practices and getting 6-month checkups and cleanings, it may be a sign that a more serious condition is developing. You should then schedule an appointment with our Mesa dentists at once so that we can evaluate your gums and recommend the appropriate periodontal treatment to address the condition.
Stages of Gum Disease
There are two stages of periodontal disease including gingivitis and periodontitis.
Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease and consists of an inflammation of the gums. During this phase, no irreversible bone or tissue damage has occurred. Patients can treat gingivitis with regular brushing and flossing.
When left untreated, gingivitis may develop into periodontitis. In this stage of periodontal disease, the inner layer of your gum tissue and bone separate from the teeth, forming pockets which can become infected. Over time, these pockets, also known as periodontal abscesses, deepen and begin to destroy the bone and gum tissue. Eventually, this can lead to tooth loss.
What is a Periodontal Abscess?
An abscess is a pocket filled with bacteria and pus which can form under the gum tissue either between the gums and the root of your tooth or your jaw bone. Sometimes an abscess can form between your tooth’s root and the jaw bone tissue. Periodontal abscesses are often painful and many times require surgery once they have developed. Periodontal abscesses do not form overnight, but rather develop as a result of neglected or unhealthy gums which develop gum disease that goes untreated. If caught early enough, patients and dentists can prevent gum disease, keeping abscesses from having a chance to form.
Symptoms of Periodontal Abscess
The symptoms of a periodontal abscess are similar to gum disease, but may be more severe and include:
- Pain at the base of teeth or in gums
- Food stuck between teeth
- Bad taste or bad breath
- Bleeding gums and infectious drainage
- Heavy plaque and tartar
- Gum inflammation and discoloration
- Sore or loose teeth
Why is a Periodontal Abscess Dangerous?
Periodontal abscesses and gum disease endanger more than your gums. They can be the cause of tooth loss, gum recession, and damaged jaw bone tissue. But more importantly, a periodontal abscess or gum disease that is allowed to progress or is left untreated for very long can complicate or worsen systemic problems, such as heart and blood vessel disease, respiratory problems, swallowing complications, and infection and fever including Septicemia. Periodontal abscesses in children can be very severe and may not be easily diagnosed. If your child is suffering from a toothache or gum tenderness, you should schedule a dental appointment immediately.
Treatment of Periodontal Disease
In severe cases of periodontal disease, patients may require surgery to treat the condition. Surgical options include:
- Flap surgery/pocket reduction surgery
- Bone grafts
- Soft tissue grafts
- Guided tissue regeneration
- Bone surgery
Health Risks of Untreated Gum Disease
When patients allow periodontal disease to continue progressing bone necrosis, tooth loss, and significant oral health problems may occur. Gum disease also increases your risk of:
- A heart attack or stroke
- Kidney and liver damage
- Respiratory illnesses
- Dementia and Alzheimer’s
- Pregnancy complications