A study conducted in 2012 estimates that 47% of all adults over the age of 30 have some degree of periodontal disease. This can range from mild to serious. Periodontal disease starts with plaque. Plaque comes from the bacteria which resides in our mouths. Bacteria love the mouth because it is wet, warm, and has a food source.
When plaque is not removed from the teeth it hardens and forms tartar which can only be removed with a professional dental cleaning. When plaque stays on the teeth, it becomes slowly more detrimental to the mouth. Eventually this plaque build-up, which is full of bacteria, causes an inflammation of the gums known as gingivitis.
Though gingivitis can be treated and reversed with proper dental care, if it is not treated it will turn into Periodontitis. This causes the gums to pull away from the teeth and form pockets. These pockets are prone to infections. Since the body is treating the infection with its natural defenses, the connections the teeth have get destroyed. The connective tissues, bones, and gums all get broken down and loose teeth need to be removed.
Of course, anyone who has been diagnosed with gingivitis is at a high risk for developing Periodontal disease, but even without a diagnosis there are warning signs that could indicate periodontitis is present. Having bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth could be an indication that there is an abundance of bacteria building up in the mouth. Bacteria produce endotoxin which is part of their own metabolism. This is the cause of gum inflammation. These pockets full of endotoxin burrow deeper into the gum line and eventually the jaw. If too much of the jaw bone is lost then teeth have no stability and will either be lost or need to be removed.
Changes to the gum line can indicate the presence of periodontal disease. This is especially true if gums are swollen, bright red, purple, tender to the touch or if they recede down making the teeth look longer than normal. Sometimes these symptoms are dramatic and obvious, in milder cases though, they may appear in a less severe manner.
Because the gum line is physically pulling away from the teeth, new spaces and gaps may appear in between existing teeth. This is usually accompanied by loose teeth, a change to the bite pattern or the way teeth fit together. When the area is infected there will often be a pus build up between the teeth or between the gums and teeth.
Do not make the mistake of thinking that these symptoms will go away on their own. If left untreated, tooth loss and other serious symptoms can occur at an alarming rate. Aside from having gingivitis, periodontitis has other risk factors. Poor oral hygiene, a hereditary predisposition, diabetes, tobacco use, medications, substance abuse, hormonal changes, and poor fitting restorations can all increase a persons odds of getting periodontal disease. Do not take chances with your teeth. If you have any risk factors and/or symptoms of periodontal disease, see your dentist, sooner rather than later.
Copyright Dr.Jean-Jacques Edderai – 2015