It starts one night while you’re brushing your teeth. You notice a little bit of bleeding from your gums. You figure you probably simply brushed a little too hard and forget about it. After all, it’s no big deal. Not so. Bleeding gums are a warning sign of gingivitis, an infection in your gums and an early stage of periodontal disease. Untreated, gum disease will only become worse, and can lead to some severe dental issues.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is a more advanced stage of gum disease. By this point, more than just your gums are affected. Plaque, a sticky substance that forms on your teeth, hardens into tartar, which is impossible to remove with regular brushing. This tartar pushes up against your gums, causing irritation and inflammation. Bacteria can get below the gum line, which can lead to infections in the roots or your teeth. From there, the infection can get into your jawbone and blood stream. Once in the blood stream, the infection can spread throughout your body, leading to heart problems and even problems within the brain.
There are multiple symptoms of periodontal disease. These include:
- Red, swollen gums. This is from tartar pushing on your gums causing irritation and inflammation. This can be accompanied by pain, but not always.
- Bad breath. Food particles that have fallen below the gum line are impossible to remove on your own, and they can begin to rot. A buildup of bacteria is also a culprit of bad breath.
- Receding gums.
- Bone deterioration in the jaw.
- Loose and/or sensitive teeth. Loose teeth are due to gum and bone issues. Sensitive teeth are caused by exposed roots.
If you notice any of these symptoms, contact the dentist immediately. Regular brushing and flossing cannot reverse these problems. Treatment is required.
Once gum disease has progressed to periodontal disease, a deep cleaning is required. This cleaning is called scaling and root planing. This process removes plaque and tartar buildup as well as food particles and bacteria. Scaling is the cleaning of the surface of your teeth, both above and below of the gum line. Root planing is the cleaning of the roots of your teeth, smoothing the surface and removing bacteria and toxins. This helps to prevent new bacteria from attaching to your teeth and preventing future infections.
After treatment, measures should be taken to ensure that periodontal disease doesn’t return. Brush your teeth at least twice a day to remove leftover food particles, plaque and bacteria. Flossing daily gets rid of contaminants between teeth. Rinsing with mouthwash helps to kill any more stubborn bacteria. If you are a smoker, it may take longer to treat periodontal disease. It is also important to visit the dentist at least twice a year for thorough cleanings and a complete oral examination. The dentist can help to prevent gum disease as well as spot early warning signs.
Periodontal disease can lead to multiple problems. Not only can infection harm your gums, it can also deteriorate your jawbone, and cause your teeth to fall out. It can also lead to other health issues. The dentists at Southern Arizona Periodontics can help stop periodontal disease in its tracks, reversing it and allowing you to heal. Call today to schedule an appointment and get the quality care you need and deserve.