Healthy gums enhance the appearance of your teeth, like a frame around a beautiful painting. But when your gums become unhealthy, they can become swollen and red, or they can begin to recede. Later, if treatment is avoided, your teeth can shift, loosen, or fall out. These changes not only affect your ability to chew and speak, they also spoil your smile. Periodontal therapy will help you retain your teeth and will reduce inflammation in your gums.
About Gum Disease
Dental plaque is the primary cause of gum disease. Certain bacteria found in plaque produce toxins or poisons that irritate the gums, causing inflammation and bleeding. If the irritation is prolonged, the gums will separate from the teeth, causing pockets to form. As periodontal disease progresses, the supporting gum tissue and bone will deteriorate, creating the opportunity for tooth loss. Many patients with gum disease show obvious symptoms, but many others do not. More than 80 percent of Americans will have struggled with some form of gum disease by the age of 45.
Preventing Periodontal Disease
The best way to prevent gum disease is through daily brushing and flossing. Unfortunately, even with the best home care routine you can still develop some form of periodontal disease. Once this happens, professional treatment is needed.
Gum Disease and Your Overall Health
- Periodontal Disease & Tobacco – Current studies have linked periodontal disease with tobacco usage. These cases may even be more severe. Not only is there a greater accumulation of calculus on teeth, the pockets between the gums and teeth are deeper and bone loss is more severe. What’s more, chemicals in tobacco, such as nicotine and tar, impede the healing process.
- Diabetes & Oral Health – Individuals suffering from diabetes, have a higher risk of developing bacterial infections in the mouth. These infections may impair your ability to process insulin, resulting in greater difficulty with your diabetes. Periodontal diseases will be more severe and treatment more difficult. However, well-controlled diabetics have a lower incidence of cavities.
- Women & Periodontal Health – Throughout a woman’s life, hormonal changes affect the tissue throughout the body. Fluctuations occur during puberty, pregnancy and menopause. At these times, the chance of periodontal disease may increase, requiring special care.
- Puberty – During puberty, the body produces more sex hormones. These higher levels increase gum sensitivity and lead to greater irritations from plaque and food particles. As a result, gums can become swollen, turn red, and feel tender.
- Menstruation – Similar symptoms occasionally appear several days before menstruation. The gums may bleed or become bright red or swollen on the inside of the cheek. Your symptoms will clear up once your period has started. As the amount of sex hormones decrease, so too will these problems.
- Pregnancy – Between the second and eighth month of pregnancy, your gums may swell, bleed, and become red or tender. Large lumps may also appear as a reaction to local irritants. However, these growths are generally painless and not cancerous. They may require professional removal, but usually disappear after pregnancy. Because periodontal infections can place a baby’s health at risk, proper home care and careful periodontic monitoring is vital during pregnancy.
- Oral Contraceptives – Swelling, bleeding, and tenderness of the gums may also occur when you are taking oral contraceptives, which are synthetic hormones. You must mention any prescriptions you’re taking, including oral contraceptives, prior to medical or dental treatment. This will help eliminate the risk of drug interactions, such as antibiotics with oral contraceptives, where the effectiveness of the contraceptive can be lessened.
- Menopause – Changes in the look and feel of your mouth may occur if you are menopausal or post-menopausal. These changes include feelings of pain or burning in your gum tissue and salty, peppery, or sour tastes.
Would you like to learn more about periodontal disease and how it’s treated? Call Metropolitan Periodontics & Implantology Associates, PA with your questions or to schedule an appointment. Dr. Rynar is happy to provide periodontal therapy to patients in New York, New Jersey, and all surrounding communities.
Periodontal Disease FAQs
It’s important to stay well-informed when it comes to matters of oral health. If you have questions regarding gum disease or periodontal therapy that haven’t been addressed on this page, get in touch with us to schedule an appointment. Dr. Rynar will help you find the answers you’re looking for so that you can keep your gums healthy and your smile secure. Below are a few of the questions that we’ve often received.
What are the Symptoms of Gum Disease?
Gums that are red, tender, swollen, and bleed easily are usually a sign of early gum disease (gingivitis). Bleeding might occur whenever you use dental floss or bite down on particularly hard or crunchy foods. We may also find pockets in your gums around the areas where they attach to the teeth.
Once gum disease reaches its most severe stage, periodontitis, any pockets that have formed will get larger, and pus could form between the teeth and gums. You might also notice mouth sores or a persistent foul taste. At some point, the teeth might even come loose.
Sometimes symptoms don’t appear until very late into the gum disease cycle, which is why it’s important to visit our office for regular checkups.
Can Gum Disease Affect My Heart?
More and more research in recent years points towards a link between gum disease and cardiovascular problems such as strokes and heart attacks. While it’s not yet certain that gum disease directly causes these issues, it’s believed that it can contribute to them by introducing bacteria into the bloodstream, allowing them to travel to other body parts and damage the blood vessels in those areas. This could eventually lead to the hardening of important arteries, restricting the flow of blood to the heart. Note that there are number of conditions – such as diabetes and poor health habits – that can contribute to both heart problems and gum disease.
How Can Gum Disease Be Treated?
To treat gum disease, the harmful bacteria that has built up on your teeth and under the gum line need to be removed. Obviously, this partly entails a good oral hygiene routine, meaning brushing two times a day and flossing daily. (We may suggest other oral hygiene products depending on your needs.) If your gum disease has reached the periodontitis stage, a deep cleaning is needed. We’ll use special tools to break up and remove plaque and tartar from the areas they’ve accumulated; after that, the rough spots on the tooth roots are smoothed out so that bacteria can’t become lodged within them.
Will I Need Surgery?
As long as gum disease is caught and addressed early, surgery likely won’t be necessary. There are advanced cases, however, where such treatment will be required. If the bone supporting your teeth has been destroyed, we may recommend osseous surgery. This procedure helps get rid of the pockets that form in your gums by removing infected tissue along with diseased bone, creating a healthier environment that should give your mouth a better chance to heal.
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