Gum Disease – Erich Shrefler
In American, more than 75 percent of Americans over age 35 have some degree of gum disease. Periodontal or gum disease, including gingivitis and periodontitis, can be very serious infections. The mildest stage of this disease is characterized by swollen gums that bleed easily. In severe cases, you can lose your teeth. Therefore, if you want to keep your teeth, the first step is taking care of your gums.
About periodontal disease
The word periodontal literally translates to, “around the tooth.” Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection that affects the health of your gums and your bone that supports your teeth. Periodontal disease can affect one tooth or multiple teeth.
Gum disease begins with plaque (the sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on your teeth), causing your gums to become inflamed. Plaque is constantly forming on your teeth, without you even knowing it. When it accumulates to excessive levels, it can harden into a substance called tartar (calculus) in as few as 24 hours. Tartar is so tightly bound to your teeth that it can only be removed during a professional cleaning.
If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis. Over time, plaque can spread and grow below your gum line. Toxins produced by this bacterium-filled plaque can irritate your gums and stimulate a chronic inflammatory response, where your body essentially turns on itself; the tissues and bone that support your teeth will start breaking down and become destroyed.
You gums will separate from the teeth and form pockets or spaces between your teeth and gums that become infected. As the disease progresses, the pockets grow deeper and deeper, and more of your bone and gum tissue are destroyed. Eventually, your teeth can become loose and may either fall out or need to be removed. While this destructive process has mild symptoms, gum disease does not come completely without warning.
Here are some indicators that you may have gum disease:
·Gums that bleed during and after tooth brushing
·Red, swollen or tender gums
·Persistent bad breath or bad taste in the mouth
·Visibly receding gums
·The formation of pockets (spaces) between your teeth and gums
·Loose or shifting teeth
·Changes in the way your teeth fit together or the fit of your dentures
There are many forms of periodontitis. The most common ones include the following.
- Aggressive periodontitis: Characterized by rapid attachment loss and bone destruction.
- Chronic periodontitis: The most frequently occurring form of periodontitis, characterized by pocket formation and/or gum recession. Attachment loss usually occurs slowly.
- Periodontitis as a result of systemic diseases: This can result from conditions such as heart disease, respiratory disease, and diabetes.
- Necrotizing periodontal disease: This infection is most common among those with conditions such as HIV infection, malnutrition and immunosuppression.