Gum Disease: The Silent Threat

Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is one of the leading causes of tooth loss in adults. Gum disease has also been linked to a wide range of serious, and sometimes fatal, medical conditions. These facts are frightening enough by themselves. To make things worse, most people affected by periodontal disease don’t even know they have it. Left untreated, it can gradually destroy a person’s health.

What Is Periodontal (Gum) Disease?

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Periodontal disease is an insidious, usually painless condition caused by a slowly progressing infection of the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth. Gum disease is caused by plaque, the sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on the teeth. Toxins created by the bacteria damage the gums and cause cavities in the teeth. Meanwhile, the plaque gradually hardens into calculus, or “tartar”—an extremely hard, damaging substance that it is impossible to remove by brushing or flossing. Bacteria continue to multiply and flourish inside of the tartar, which continues to accumulate more plaque over time and cause even more damage.

An early sign of periodontal disease is gingivitis, a condition associated with red, swollen, bleeding gums. A normal dental cleaning can usually reverse this condition at this early stage, and while normal brushing and flossing can remove most signs of gingivitis, a professional examination is necessary to ensure that the disease does not progress.

As gum disease progresses, calculus and plaque continue to accumulate, releasing more toxins and causing more damage. In the middle to late stages, the advancing infection dissolves the bone around the teeth, eliminating support to the tooth. Teeth can become loose, fall out, or require removal by a dentist.

Warning Signs of Gum Disease

Periodontal disease is usually painless, and accompanied by only mild visible symptoms – but left untreated, it can have serious consequences. If you notice any of the following symptoms, contact our office immediately:

  • Bleeding gums during or after tooth brushing
  • Red, swollen, or tender gums
  • Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
  • Chronic bad breath that doesn’t go away
  • Pus between teeth and gums
  • Loose teeth
  • Changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • Changes in the fit of partial dentures

Consequences of Gum Disease

Periodontal disease can have serious and far-reaching affects upon almost every aspect of your health. Some of these can even threaten your life.

The bacteria that cause periodontal disease are associated with a wide range of other serious conditions, including:

  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Stroke
  • Respiratory infection
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Osteoporosis
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Dementia
  • Kidney disease
  • Oral cancer

Oakridge Dental Center’s periodontal program is an organized system for early detection, diagnosis, treatment and maintenance of periodontal disease, and for the early detection of oral cancer. We have a non-surgical approach to the diagnosis, prevention, treatment, and management of early- to moderate-stage periodontal disease, and which provides the best possible treatments to aid in the improvement of your overall health.

Here at Oakridge Dental Center (www.oakridgedentalcenter.com) we follow an effective oral/systemic approach to periodontal disease.   We’ll also provide you with the information and education you need to watch for warning signs, perform necessary preventative measures, and actively protect yourself against severe illness.