Periodontal disease, also commonly called gum disease, is a chronic infection that occurs in the mouth and inflames the gums and bone surrounding the teeth. This infection destroys the tissue and bone around the teeth to the point where the teeth become loose within the bone; teeth may shift positions within the jaw, and some people with periodontal disease may experience so much bone loss that their teeth are loose enough to be moved with the tongue or pulled out with the fingers.
Periodontal disease is nothing to be ashamed of. People often have a genetic predisposition to gum disease, with accelerating factors including tobacco use, pregnancy, poor oral hygiene, clenching and grinding of the teeth, nutrition, obesity, and even some other health conditions such as heart disease, respiratory disease, and diabetes.
Those of advanced age are also more likely to suffer from periodontal disease. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, over 70% of United States citizens aged 65 and older have periodontal disease.
Gum disease is related to many other diseases; every time you swallow, you are swallowing bacteria and allowing it to get into your bloodstream. Periodontal disease has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, strokes, and digestive issues.
So, how can you tell if you are suffering from periodontal disease?
The best way to confirm your diagnosis is to speak to a dentist, who will take an x-ray and look for progressive bone loss around your teeth. Some early warning signs to look out for are receding gums, pain in the mouth, bleeding while brushing and flossing, separating or loose teeth, bad breath, bite changes, and tender, swollen, or red gums.
There are different stages of periodontal disease, from gingivitis to advanced periodontitis. When in the early stages, starting deep cleanings by periodontists every three months and continuing for the rest of your life may help to slow the progression of the disease. However, once you get to the moderate-to-advanced stages of the disease, with 40-60% bone loss, it can no longer be managed with deep cleanings.
Periodontal disease cannot be fixed with antibiotics. The only cure for periodontal disease is to remove the teeth from the mouth entirely. Once the teeth are removed, so is the bacteria.
As you can see, periodontal disease can make people seriously ill, in addition to removing the one thing required for our team at STAR to restore patient’s smiles: bone! It is crucial to slow the progress of the disease while it is possible, in order for it to be possible to place implants in your mouth. Allowing periodontal disease to progress unhindered can result in the requirement of bone grafts and special implants, which raises the cost of treatment and complicates your procedure.
Active infection from periodontal disease can also compromise the healing of an implant, so it is essential to address the infection in your mouth in order to maintain your jawbone and place implants successfully.
For more information on periodontal disease, visit https://www.perio.org.