Gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) can be a lot more serious than most people would expect. This is especially true because the warning signs and symptoms of periodontal disease are very subtle and often completely painless. In fact, an astounding 80% of people who have periodontal disease aren’t even aware of it!
What is Periodontal Disease?
The word periodontal means “around the tooth”. Periodontal disease attacks the gums and slowly degrades the integrity of the bone structures that support the teeth. Gingivitis is by far the most commonly seen periodontal disease. Food debris and bacteria form a sticky film called plaque, and when it mixes with saliva it forms calculus or tartar. It is the excessive build-up of tartar that leads to the gum disease gingivitis; and when gingivitis is left untreated, it oftentimes progresses into periodontal disease.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is characterized by the following:
- Bleeding Gums – Gums should never bleed, even when after brushing vigorously or use dental floss
- Red and Puffy Gums – Gums should never be red or swollen
- Receding Gums – A direct result of the deterioration of soft tissue of the gums
- Shifting or Separating Teeth – Indicative of deteriorating bone structure and the soft tissue of the gums that results from periodontal disease
- Loose Teeth – The bone loss resulting from periodontal disease can cause teeth to become loose
- Tenderness or Discomfort – Plaque, calculus (a.k.a. tartar) and bacteria can irritate the gums and teeth
- Persistent Bad Breath – Often caused by an excessive build-up of bacteria in the mouth
- Pus Around the Teeth and Gums – This a tell-tale sign that is an infection present
What Are the Hidden Dangers of Periodontal Disease?
One of the biggest issues with periodontal disease is, as mentioned above, that because the signs and symptoms are so subtle and more often than not pain free, periodontal disease can go unnoticed, and thus untreated, for a very significant amount of time. This is rather problematic as, like virtually every disease that can affect the human body, the longer periodontal disease goes untreated the more severe it becomes. When left entirely untreated for a significant amount of time periodontal disease eventually develops into periodontitis, a very serious infection of the gums and soft tissues that support the teeth. The result of periodontitis can be devastating to your oral and overall well-being, as it can lead to both bone and tooth loss and (in some extreme cases) even death!
Additionally, because severe periodontal disease causes hardened arteries (a.k.a. atherosclerosis), there is an ever-increasing body of evidence that the consequences of periodontal disease strongly correlate with a significantly increased risk of stroke and heart attack.
If you suspect you may have gingivitis or periodontal disease, do NOT ignore it…the problem certainly won’t resolve itself. Contact Arnold Dentistry for a thorough examination, diagnosis and treatment at (813) 689-1529