Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease or periodontitis, is an infection that begins in the mouth, affecting your gums, teeth, and jaw bone.
What Causes Gum Disease?
Gum disease is caused by your teeth being exposed to plaque for a long period of time. Eventually, the sticky film turns into hard calculus (tartar) that spreads below the gumline, causing tissue detachment, bone loss, and the infection known as periodontitis.
What Are The Oral Effects of Gum Disease?
Periodontal disease causes bleeding in the gums, bad breath, and loss of jaw bone which results in loose teeth or teeth falling out on their own. Periodontitis also causes your teeth to spread apart, shift, and in some cases, they super erupt out of the gum. This condition can cause pain in your teeth if they are loose enough, and soreness in your gum tissue.
How Gum Disease Affects Your Overall Health
The issues that come along with gum disease aren’t just limited to your mouth. There are some major health concerns that can occur, such as:
Research has shown that when the gum tissue is inflamed and bleeds, the bacteria can spread directly into arteries feeding the brain, causing you to be twice as likely to suffer from a stroke.
Diabetes and gum disease are related in more than one way.
Uncontrolled diabetes leads to higher blood sugar levels in the mouth. This promotes the growth of the bacteria that causes gum disease. It also makes gum disease more difficult to get under control.
Also, infections from periodontitis that have gone untreated can cause your blood sugar to rise and make it harder to keep your diabetes under control.
People with periodontitis are two to three times more likely to have a heart attack, or another serious cardiovascular event. Similar to what we see in stroke victims, bacteria that infect the gums travel through your body’s blood vessels where they cause inflammation and potential arterial plaque or blood clots.
Gum Disease and Pregnancy
Hormonal changes during pregnancy can make your gums more prone to inflammation and bleeding. But we also know women with gum disease are more likely to experience preeclampsia, stillbirth, and have babies with a low birth weight.
Alzheimer’s and Periodontitis
Older adults with gum disease are more likely to have evidence for amyloid-beta in their cerebrospinal fluid, which is a key biomarker for Alzheimer’s disease.
Gum Disease Can Be Prevented
Gum disease starts out as gingivitis, which is preventable and 100% reversible.
The best way to combat periodontitis is to be meticulous with your oral care technique and to visit the dentist at least every six months for a professional cleaning. During this time, our hygienist will check your gums carefully to ensure that they are at the appropriate level and tight around your teeth. We’ll clean any areas of tartar buildup that you may have missed, and if we see certain spots that you’ve been consistently missing in your cleaning routine, then we’ll give you tips on how to tackle them once you return home.
Gum Disease Treatment
If you do develop gum disease, there are treatments available. Depending on the severity of your periodontitis, we’ll likely be able to treat you in our Mesa, Arizona general dentist practice. But severe cases of periodontal infections may need to be referred to a gum specialist for treatment.
To treat gum disease, you’ll need to plan a thorough deep cleaning where we remove the buildup from both above and below the gums. We will likely numb your teeth for this treatment, and our hygienist will use a sonic water scaler that will gently vibrate all the calculus off of the teeth.
If you’ve experienced bone loss, this treatment won’t bring it back, but keeping your gum disease under control will prevent further bone deterioration.
If you need to be referred to a specialist for gum surgery, then what they’re likely to recommend is a flap surgery to expose all of the calculus buildup, remove it, disinfect the area, and then suture your gum tissues back in place.
In cases where there is a significant amount of bone loss but the teeth can be saved, the periodontist may opt to do perform grafting during the surgery, in the areas where it’s needed.
Gum Disease Treatment in Mesa, Arizona
If it’s been over six months since your last cleaning, then it’s time to come see our Mesa dentist. Pick up the phone and give Eastport Dental a call today.