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What Is Periodontal Disease?
The word “periodontal” means “around the tooth.” Periodontal disease attacks the gums and the bone that support the teeth. Plaque is a sticky film produced by bacteria to help the bacteria attach to teeth. If plaque is not removed with adequate brushing and flossing, it turns into calculus (tartar). No amount of brushing/flossing can remove calculus; therefore we rely on regular dental cleanings for its removal. When plaque and calculus are not removed, they release toxins and create inflammation that destroys the supporting gums and bone.
Periodontal disease is characterized by red, swollen, and bleeding gums but early stages can be symptom-free. Some people are more at risk than others for having destruction of the bone around their teeth. This is why some people may require more frequent dental exams and cleanings.
The Littleton and Aurora periodontal disease experts at Periodontal Associates are committed to helping patients overcome gum disease and enjoy healthy gums for life.
According to the CDC, roughly half of people aged 30 and older have periodontal disease! Most of these people don’t know they have it!
Most people who have periodontal disease are unaware of its progression because it is usually painless in the early stages. Signs and symptoms of gum disease include bleeding gums, loose teeth, new spacing between teeth, pus and swelling, red and puffy gums, bad breath, and discomfort but they normally present only when the disease is extensive!
Gums Are Connected to the Whole Body!
Not only is periodontal disease the number one reason for tooth loss, research suggests that there may be a link between periodontal disease and other systemic diseases. Research has shown how inflammation from the bacterial infection in periodontal disease spreads through the blood stream and can increase the risk for stroke, bacterial pneumonia, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and pre-term birth.
There are habits that can put people at a higher risk for periodontal disease. Smoking increases the risk of periodontal disease by 2-8 times. Research has shown that smoking worsens the immune system and blood flow and as a result, bacterial infections like gum disease can be more rapid. While our therapies can slow the progression of gum disease and can regenerate lost support, those that continue to smoke have less benefit from our treatments.
Systemic conditions like uncontrolled diabetes can put patients at higher risk for periodontal disease as well. Similar to smoking, uncontrolled diabetes can worsen the immune system and blood flow, which can speed the breakdown of tooth support and can put patients at a higher risk for infections during treatment.
Research has also shown that 20% of the population is at higher risk for gum disease. These are the patients that we regularly see for dental exams and cleanings more often (normally it’s alternating with their general dentist every 3 months [e.g. 4 dental cleanings per year]). Despite being at a higher risk, patients can expect to keep the majority of their teeth if they follow the recommendations of their dental, periodontal, and medical providers. This with good oral hygiene habits, a balanced diet, and regular dental visits can help reduce the risk for developing periodontal disease.
Signs and symptoms of periodontal disease:
According to our Aurora and Littleton periodontal disease team, the following signs suggest gum disease:
Bleeding gums when brushing or flossing
Gums should never bleed, even when you brush vigorously or use dental floss.
Also caused by bone loss or weakened periodontal fibers (fibers that support the tooth to the bone).
New spacing between teeth
Caused by bone loss.
Persistent bad breath
Caused by bacteria in the mouth.
Pus around the teeth and gums
Sign that there is an infection present.
Loss of gum around a tooth.
Red and puffy gums
Gums should never be red or swollen.
Tenderness or Discomfort
Plaque, calculus, and bacteria irritate the gums and teeth.
Periodontal Disease Treatment in Littleton and Aurora, CO
The Periodontal Associates team treats periodontal disease in Littleton and Aurora, Colorado, also serving Denver and beyond. If you experience any of the signs or symptoms of gum disease, we invite you to call or email us to request an appointment.
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