What is Periodontal Disease?

woman with gum disease

Periodontal disease, also called gum disease, is an extremely common dental problem. In America alone, there are over three million cases a year. Men are more likely to develop it, and when left untreated, it can cause other systemic diseases and problems such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and respiratory disease.

Gum disease has three stages: gingivitis, periodontitis, and advanced periodontitis. The disease can progress from a simple, reversible infection to a complete destruction of the supporting structures around the teeth. Fortunately, in every stage, your Cherry Hill dental team can treat it.

If you have noticed a negative change in your oral health, it could be warning signs for gum disease. Dr. Julie Kardon at TLC Dental Care can assess your mouth for any concerns or signs of periodontal disease. Contact our office today at 856-667-1001 to schedule professional cleanings.

What causes gum disease?

Stage 1: Gingivitis

The mouth is full of both good and bad bacteria. When a person has poor oral hygiene or other health issues, the bad bacteria increase and form dental plaque, which hardens into dental calculus (also known as tartar). The bacteria in plaque grow between the tooth and tooth socket, which leads to the first stage of gum disease – gingivitis.

Risk factors for gum disease include:

  • Age – risk increases with age
  • Gender – men are at greater risk, but just barely
  • Oral health practices
  • Diabetes – increases risk for gum disease and vice versa
  • Hormone fluctuations – such as pregnancy and menopause
  • Diet – high starch and acids increase risk
  • Genetic proclivity

In some cases, early-stage gum disease can be reversed with good oral hygiene: brush your teeth twice a day, floss daily, and use an anti-bacterial mouthwash. A tongue scraper also works well to rid the mouth of bacteria.

Stage 2: Periodontitis

If gingivitis goes untreated, it progresses into periodontitis. The plaque buildup causes bacteria to invade the tooth root, and your body responds by sending immune cells to treat the issue. These only provide the bacteria with more fuel to grow, which dissolves the bone structure and loosens your teeth.

Stage 3: Advanced Periodontitis

Advanced periodontitis occurs when periodontitis goes untreated. This stage of periodontal disease usually results in tooth loss, and sometimes, the spread of infection to other parts of the body.

What are the symptoms?

In the earliest stages of periodontal disease, there may be no symptoms at all: however, as it develops, the gums typically become red and swollen. Bleeding, especially during or after you brush or floss, is also common.

As the disease advances, the gums begin to recede so you may notice “longer teeth” and a lower gum line; teeth become loose; symptoms become more severe.

During the advanced periodontitis stage, pus between your gums and teeth – as well as sores in your mouth – may appear.

To diagnose the disease, your dentist will inspect your teeth and gums, probe the tooth socket, and take x-rays to determine how advanced the disease is.

How is periodontal disease treated?

When gingivitis develops, a dentist can reverse it. Dr. Kardon will thoroughly clean your teeth, remove plaque and tartar, and then restore your oral health.

For periodontitis, your dentist will remove the infected tissue and most likely prescribe antibiotics. In extreme cases, surgery will be needed to remove infected tooth roots so the disease can’t spread.

Dr. Kardon will do everything she can to restore your oral health before she suggests surgery. However, if surgery is the only option, you can feel safe and secure in her hands.

Visit Your Cherry Hill Dentist Today

Our friendly, compassionate Cherry Hill dental team is trained and prepared to treat even the worst cases of periodontal disease. By allowing the infection to go untreated, you increase your chances of severe dental damage and overall health problems. Contact our office today at 856-667-1001 get the treatment you need.