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Periodontal disease is gum disease. It begins as gingivitis, which involves minor gum inflammation and slight bleeding when you brush or floss. Left untreated, gingivitis will progress into periodontitis, damaging the gums and jawbone. Teeth may loosen and be lost. Periodontal disease is not uncommon; studies show that it is present to some degree in almost 50 percent of Americans aged 30 years or older.
Contributing Factors to Gum Disease
- Female hormonal changes
- Some medications
- Certain systemic diseases, such as cancer or AIDS
- Poor oral hygiene
Recent research has shown that gum disease may contribute to cardiovascular disease and stroke. There is a strong correlation between the amount of inflammation in the gums and the amount of inflammation in the arteries of the neck and heart. It may also be a factor in the delivery of pre-term, low birth weight babies, and in poorly-controlled blood sugar levels among diabetics. There is no doubt that preventing gum disease can save your teeth, gums and overall health.
Gingivitis: First Stage of Gum Disease
Bacteria are always in the mouth. Dental hygiene is designed to minimize their numbers and prevent them from damaging any mouth tissue. The bacteria thrive when food particles are left on the teeth, and they multiply their numbers, spreading into every tiny nook and cranny available.
Plaque is the name for the sticky mix of bacteria and their acidic excretions. It continuously forms in the mouth and on the teeth and must be repeatedly removed by brushing and flossing. Plaque that remains on the teeth forms a hard substance called tartar, which can only be removed by a professional dental cleaning.
Without treatment, the bacteria in plaque will eventually cause gum inflammation, known as gingivitis. Your gums become tender, reddened, and swollen and will bleed slightly when you brush and floss.
Follow these steps to ensure healthy teeth and gums:
- Brush your teeth twice every day with a fluoride toothpaste
- Floss your teeth at least once every day
- Visit the dentist for routine check-ups and professional cleanings
- Eat a nutritious diet
- Don't smoke
Please see our page on Best Dental Hygiene for more detail. If you improve your at-home oral hygiene routine and see your dentist for a cleaning you can reverse gingivitis before bone or tissue loss has occurred.
Periodontitis: The Second Stage of Gum Disease
Untreated gingivitis will advance to periodontitis, which literally means "inflammation around the tooth". At this stage of inflammation, your gums begin to pull away from your teeth. Infected "pockets"form around tooth roots as plaque spreads below the gum line. Bone and tissue are broken down. Your teeth and gums may be very sensitive, swollen, red and bleeding. You may have bad breath. Chewing may be painful. Eventually, teeth will loosen and fall out or may require professional extraction.
Periodontal disease can be managed, and in some cases reversed, with experienced dental treatment. Dr. Ted Murray, Dr. Kristen Berning, and Dr. Alexia Oetken offer the advanced diagnostics and sophisticated technology necessary to treat this destructive disease and regain a beautiful smile.
Please contact our experienced dental team by filling out the form on this page or calling 563-556-2711 to schedule your consultation at Exceptional Dentistry, serving Dubuque, Dyersville and Davenport, Iowa.
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