Periodontal (gum) disease is a bacterial infection of the gums that occurs when the toxins and acids contained in plaque irritate and inflame the gum tissues. It is a progressive condition, and if left untreated will eventually lead to the destruction of the connective gum tissue and jawbone, as well as tooth loss. When treated promptly in the earliest stages of development, periodontal disease is completely reversible. If allowed to progress, however, there is no way to completely cure the disease.
There are several stages of gum disease, each of which becomes progressively worse when unchecked. The mildest and most common form of periodontal disease is gingivitis, which is an inflammation of the gums. Gingivitis is easily reversible with a combination of thorough home care and professional cleanings. If gingivitis progresses, it becomes chronic periodontal disease. During this stage of gum disease, the destruction of the gum and bone tissue begins. While the progression of the disease can be halted at this stage, it cannot be completely cured.
Further development of the disease causes it to develop first into aggressive periodontal disease, and then into a type of periodontal disease related to systemic conditions (such as heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory disease). Patients with these forms of periodontal disease often require surgical intervention in order to halt the progression of the disease.
There are many causes of gum disease, including:
- Poor oral hygiene
- Pregnancy and menopause
- Chronic stress and poor diet
- Tobacco use
- Diabetes and other underlying medical issues
- Bruxism (teeth grinding)
- Certain medications (oral contraceptives, steroids, heart medication, and anti-depressants)
Periodontal disease can sometimes be difficult to diagnose, as the early stages of the disease are painless and may go unnoticed. This makes it critical that you continue to visit the dentist regularly so that your mouth can be checked for any signs of periodontal disease. Common symptoms of gum disease include:
- Gums that bleed easily
- Pain, redness, or swelling of the gums
- Bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Changes in the bite
- Pus between the teeth
- Longer-looking teeth
- Gum recession
If you have any questions or concerns about periodontal disease, please contact Adaptive Dental Associates at 908-847-4498. Dr. Joseph Maggio and associates will be happy to provide you with additional information, and our team can help you schedule a consultation with our dentists at Phillipsburg, New Jersey.