- Periodontal disease is a serious oral infection caused by bacteria in plaque and tartar buildup.
- Symptoms include red and swollen gums, bleeding while brushing/flossing, bad breath, and more.
- Risk factors include smoking, family history, poor oral hygiene, and age.
- Treatment options include professional care (deep cleanings/surgery), medications (antibiotics/anti-inflammatories), home remedies (proper brushing & flossing/eating vitamin-rich foods), and lifestyle changes (quitting smoking/managing chronic health conditions).
- Preventative measures involve brushing twice daily with an antimicrobial toothpaste, flossing daily, regular dental visits, and dental care.
Periodontal disease, commonly called gum disease, affects nearly half of all American adults. Despite its prevalence, many people are unaware of the disease’s seriousness and its impact on overall health. Here’s a guide to help you understand periodontal disease and the essential things you need to know to protect your oral and overall health.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is an infection that affects the soft tissue and bone that supports your teeth. It is caused by bacteria that thrive in the plaque and tartar that can accumulate on your teeth and gums. The disease’s earliest stage is gingivitis, characterized by inflamed and bleeding gums. If gingivitis is left untreated, it can progress to periodontitis, leading to tooth loss and damage to the bone and tissue that support your teeth.
Symptoms of Periodontal Disease
The symptoms of periodontal disease can vary depending on the stage of the disease. You may notice red and swollen gums in the early stages, bleeding when you brush or floss, and bad breath. As the disease progresses, you may experience pain or discomfort when chewing, tooth sensitivity, and loose or shifting teeth. If you notice any of these symptoms, seeing your dentist as soon as possible is important to prevent the disease from worsening.
While periodontal disease can affect anyone, some people are at a higher risk than others. Here are four common risk factors for the disease, explained in-depth:
Smoking increases your risk of developing periodontal disease due to nicotine’s interference with the body’s natural healing process. Smoking also reduces blood flow to the gums, making it difficult for them to heal from infection or inflammation. In addition, smoking weakens the immune system, which is essential for fighting off oral bacteria that can cause gum disease.
Family history is important in determining your risk of developing periodontal disease. Studies have shown that genetics can make some people more susceptible to gum diseases due to underlying conditions like diabetes or autoimmune diseases.
Poor Oral Hygiene
Neglecting to brush and floss your teeth regularly can increase your chances of developing periodontal disease. Plaque and tartar buildup can lead to gingivitis, which, if left untreated, can progress into periodontitis. It is essential to keep up with proper oral hygiene practices to reduce your risk for gum disease.
Periodontal disease is more prevalent among adults over 35 as the bacteria build up in the mouth due to poor oral hygiene or smoking. In addition, as people age, their bodies cannot fight off infection as effectively, making it easier for gum disease to develop and worsen.
There are various ways to treat this disease. Here are four options to do so:
Various professionals help deal with this disease. A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in treating gum disease. Your dentist may recommend a deep cleaning, also known as scaling and root planing, to remove the plaque and tartar buildup from your teeth and gums. In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to restore the health of your gums and bones.
Your doctor or dentist may prescribe medications that can help treat periodontal disease. Antibiotics are often used to reduce inflammation and kill bacteria in the mouth that can cause infection. Other medications like anti-inflammatory drugs or analgesics can also be prescribed to manage pain associated with the disease.
There are various home remedies that you can use to relieve symptoms and prevent further damage from periodontal disease. Brushing twice daily with an antimicrobial toothpaste and flossing daily can help reduce plaque and tartar buildup. Eating foods rich in vitamins A, C, and D can also be beneficial as these vitamins help strengthen the gums and bones.
Specific lifestyle changes can also reduce your risk of periodontal disease or slow its progression. Quitting smoking is essential to lowering your risk for gum disease. In addition, controlling any chronic health conditions like diabetes is essential to improve overall oral health. Eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can also help keep the bacteria growth at bay in your mouth.
Periodontal Disease Prevention
The best way to prevent periodontal disease is to practice good oral hygiene habits every day. Here are four tips to help you do so:
- Brush your teeth twice per day with antimicrobial toothpaste and floss daily.
- Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and check-ups.
- Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
- Quit smoking or avoid using other tobacco products.
Following these tips can reduce your risk of developing periodontal disease or slow its progression if it has already begun. Understanding the seriousness of this disease can help you take the necessary steps to protect your oral health and overall well-being.