Your mouth has many important responsibilities. To ensure that it functions properly, you need to take good care of it. It is recommended that you brush and floss your teeth every day to prevent plaque and bacterial buildup. It is also important that you have your teeth professionally cleaned and examined every six months. These habits are crucial for preventing serious oral health complications. Ignoring your oral hygiene can quickly result in periodontal, or gum disease. At Richard Whipple, DDS, we can help you to prevent the formation of gum disease and provide treatment if it does occur.

What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease, also commonly called gum disease, is a progressive oral health issue that affects more than just your gums. Advanced stages of periodontal disease can impact your teeth, their supporting structures, and even your whole-body disease. Periodontal disease starts when plaque and oral bacteria accumulate on your teeth and begin irritating your gums. This irritation triggers an inflammatory response, which causes your gums to begin swelling. These early symptoms are often difficult to detect. As periodontal disease progresses, swollen tissues start pulling away from your teeth, creating pockets. Bacteria fall into these pockets, where they attack the gums from the inside while also attacking your periodontal ligaments and jawbone. The disease only gets worse over time, and can ultimately lead to tooth loss.

Causes of Periodontal Disease

One of the most common causes of periodontal disease is poor oral hygiene. Brushing and flossing, in addition to dental cleanings and exams, are essential for keeping plaque and bacteria at bay. Skipping these habits, even only occasionally, can quickly result in periodontal disease. Other causes of periodontal disease include:

  • Poor tooth alignment. Crooked teeth are more difficult to thoroughly clean.
  • Tobacco products. Cigarettes and other tobacco products slow blood flow and limit oxygen in the bloodstream.
  • Dry mouth. This is a condition in which there is not enough saliva in your mouth. It can be caused by alcohol consumption, smoking, certain medications, and certain medical conditions. Dry mouth creates a perfect environment for oral bacteria to thrive.

Symptoms of Periodontal Disease

The symptoms of periodontal disease vary based on the severity. Common symptoms include:

  • Red, swollen gum tissue. Redness and swelling are the first symptoms to appear. They are often missed or thought to be the result of aggressive tooth brushing. You may also notice that your gums bleed when you brush and floss.
  • Chronic bad breath.
  • Gum recession. As pockets grow deeper, the infected tissue begins to die off. Your teeth appear longer, and small spaces begin to appear between your teeth.
  • Tooth sensitivity. This often occurs as a result of root exposure.
  • Loose teeth. This occurs when the periodontal ligaments and jawbone are attacked by bacteria. The structures begin to deteriorate, leading to tooth instability.
  • Tooth loss.

How is Periodontal Disease Treated?

The exact treatment you receive for periodontal disease depends upon the severity of your condition. Common treatments include:

  • Scaling and root planing.
  • Laser therapy.
  • Periodontal maintenance.
  • Pocket reduction surgery.
  • Osseous surgery.
  • Gum and bone grafting.