Periodontal Disease

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What Is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal (gum) disease is an infection of the tissues which hold your teeth in place. These include the gums, the cementum that covers the tooth root, and the periodontal ligaments and alveolar bone. Many people often ignore the early signs that their gums are infected with bacteria which can be demonstrated by swollen, sore and bleeding gums. Left untreated these symptoms can eventually lead to tooth loss and other health problems.

Gum disease is caused by the bacteria in dental plaque. Plaque is the sticky stuff on your teeth that begins forming in between brushing. If your dental hygiene routine is inadequate, your body’s immune system will release substances that can inflame the gums to get rid of the plaque.

Gingivitis is the earliest and mildest form of the disease. It causes the gums to bleed easily and to become swollen and sore. Gingivitis can be reversed at this stage with professional treatment and good oral home care. There are a number of risk factors for gum disease and smoking is the most significant. Other risk factors may include diabetes, aging, stress, puberty, medications which leave your mouth dry, substance abuse, systemic diseases, and HIV infection.

If left untreated, gingivitis can advance to a more serious condition called periodontitis, which can affect the bone and supporting tissue. Pockets or spaces form between the tooth and gum that can lead to the loosening or loss of teeth. The dynamics of the disease are such that you can experience episodes of rapid periodontal disease activity in a relatively short period.

Fortunately, gingivitis does not always develop into periodontitis; many factors, which include oral hygiene and genetic predisposition, often influence progression. One of the challenges is to discover periodontal disease in its earliest stages because of its silent nature. As the disease advances and the gums deteriorate, the bleeding may stop, and there may be no further obvious sign until the teeth start to feel loose. In most cases, periodontal disease responds to treatment, and continued damage can be stopped.

Here are some warning signs or periodontal disease:

  • Persistent bad breath or bad taste
  • Gums that easily bleed
  • Swollen, red, or tender gums
  • Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
  • Permanent teeth that are loose or separating
  • Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • Sores on the inside of the mouth

If you notice any of these warning signals, call our Roanoke Rapids office to make an appointment for a check-up. Prevention is the best way to avoid the need for periodontal treatments. Good oral health care involves a daily home routine, including brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and daily flossing. Twice yearly check-ups and cleanings with Dr. Fleming and our staff are an important part of your regime. Contact our office today to schedule a preventive cleaning and exam and keep periodontal disease from damaging your smile. 

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