Did you know that gum disease is one of the most common diseases in the U.S. today? Tens of millions of Americans struggle with inflammatory gum disease, but many don’t even know they have it! Could you be one of them? It’s important to find out as studies have linked periodontitis to other health conditions, including diabetes mellitus, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic kidney, and lung diseases. The bacteria in gum disease, called Streptococcus sanguis, has been known to spread to the heart as well as play a role in strokes.
Gum Disease: The Silent Killer
Known as periodontal disease, this condition arises when your tissues and bone material that support your teeth become infected. As harmful germs inhabiting your mouth infect your gums surrounding the teeth, you might notice redness, bleeding, and swelling. But, periodontal disease doesn’t just destroy your teeth, gums, and bone. It is the major cause of tooth loss for adults and has also been linked to medical conditions like heart disease, stroke, some cancers, and even preterm and stillborn births.
How It Starts
The beginning stage of periodontal disease is called gingivitis. Your gums will be inflamed from dental plaque build-up, a sticky biofilm made of germs and bacteria in the mouth which coats your teeth. You can only get rid of it by brushing your teeth and gum line every day. Without daily intervention, plaque hardens into calculus or tartar, which requires removal at your six-month dental cleanings. If not kept in check, plaque will grow and infect your gums, and you may not even notice the initial redness and bleeding if you’re not looking for it.
How It Ends
Untreated gum disease progresses into periodontitis, which is where calculus deposits grow past your teeth down under your gum line. Your teeth aren’t embedded in the jawbone; instead, they are surrounded by the periodontal membrane. This membrane covers the bone and tooth under the gums. These tissues are made of little fibers that attach to the tooth and bone. As the bacterial infection lingers, it destroys the membrane while the toxin from the bacteria destroys the surrounding bone.
As the gums pull away from the teeth and bone, you end up with periodontal pockets. Now, you may notice there’s a problem because of the swelling, bleeding, and pain whenever you chew. You may also feel that your bite is “off” (misaligned), and your teeth are loose. You can also end up with oral sores, chronic halitosis, tooth sensitivity or pus emanating from the gums. In the end, you could even lose those teeth.
If you want to maintain healthy teeth and gums, it is possible! Diligent daily oral hygiene care with brushing and flossing will fight tooth decay and gum disease to prevent them from gaining ground.
Supplement your daily hygiene routine by seeing Dr. Miller and her team every 3-6 month (depending on what has been recommended to you in your particular situation), to remove calculus buildup and to check for any signs of gum disease so it can quickly be stopped in its tracks. The evaluation takes about 45 minutes and it involves placing a small probe between your gum line and the teeth to measure deeper-than-normal gum pockets and several other test and measurements in order to diagnose and determine what treatment is recommended to begin and restore your gum health.
If you are looking for a state-of-the-art dental experience, we welcome you to call The Palm Desert Center for Advanced Periodontics, Cosmetic, Sedation and Implant Dentistry team at 760-851-0779 today. Dr. Kalashini Miller and her team of specialists are proud to serve patients in the Palm Desert, La Quinta, Indian Wells, Rancho Mirage, Palm Springs and neighboring communities of the Coachella Valley. We accept INSURANCE and look forward to helping you win the fight against the “silent killer,” periodontal disease!