About half of all adults over age 30 have some form of periodontal disease. Fortunately, this common condition is treatable if you can identify the signs and symptoms.
Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is more common than you think. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates nearly 50 percent of adults aged 30 or older have some form of periodontal disease, with that number rising to 70 percent for those 65 and older.
Periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss and more severe health issues without treatment, but it doesn’t have to get to that point! Treating gum disease starts with knowing how to recognize the first signs of periodontal disease.
What are the signs and symptoms of periodontal disease?
Most cases of gum disease can be traced to poor dental hygiene. When you brush and floss daily, you remove harmful bacteria from your teeth and gums. Excess bacteria in your mouth can form a sticky substance called plaque. As the plaque builds up, it converts into hardened tartar, which damages the gums and attracts even more bacteria. Smoking, genetics, and certain medical conditions such as dry mouth and diabetes can also elevate one’s risk of gum disease.
Periodontal disease progresses in stages:
Gingivitis. Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease and causes red, swollen gums. You’ll notice bleeding when you brush and floss. With treatment and good oral hygiene practices, gingivitis can be reversed before it progresses to the more advanced stages of periodontal disease.
Mild periodontitis. Mild periodontitis causes the continual buildup of plaque, bacteria, and tartar, leading to gum recession or a noticeable pocket between the teeth and gums.
Moderate periodontitis. At this stage, bacteria erodes the bones and gum tissue holding the tooth in place. Your teeth will feel loose or as if they don’t fit together. Gums will appear severely swollen.
Severe periodontitis. The most advanced stage of periodontal disease causes your teeth to loosen further and possibly fall out. The gums become infected, and areas of pus may form. Excessive bleeding and bad breath are common at this point.
At any stage, periodontal disease can be managed with antibiotics and non-surgical and surgical treatments. While effective, those methods cannot replace good oral hygiene practices that prevent periodontal disease.
Preventing periodontal disease
The CDC classifies gum disease as one of the most severe threats to oral health in the U.S. But gum disease is not only damaging to your teeth and gums. It’s also detrimental to your overall health, potentially raising your risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, and dementia. As such, it’s vital to take measures to prevent gum disease, including:
Take care of your teeth every day. One way to reduce the bacteria and plaque on your teeth and gums is by brushing and flossing daily. Rinsing with mouthwash also helps.
Get regular teeth cleanings. While brushing and flossing removes most of the bacteria and plaque on your teeth and gums, you cannot get rid of tartar alone. A dental hygienist is trained to spot and clear away tartar. The less tartar there is on your gums, the less chance of gum disease forming.
Know your risk factors. Talk to your dentist about how you can prevent gum disease. You may need more frequent cleaning or undergo an exam by a periodontist specializing in gum disease.
Get your gums checked today
Schedule an appointment at Espire’s Oklahoma City, OK, location today! Our highly trained dentists can check your oral health for the first signs of gum disease. Don’t live near our Oklahoma City office? Find one of our other locations near you.
Oklahoma City, OK
12448 St Andrews Drive
Oklahoma City, OK 73120