Periodontal disease is a gum disease also known as periodontitis. If left untreated, it may result in tooth loss. The progressive disease begins with the irritation and inflammation of the gingival tissues that surround and support the teeth. This is caused by plaque buildup and results in an ongoing bacterial infection. The infection colonizes in the gingival tissue. Deep pockets then form between the teeth and the gums, damaging the gums and the underlying jawbone and leading to tooth loss. In more severe cases, the bacteria from this infection can migrate through the bloodstream to affect other parts of the body.
Preventing periodontal disease is critical in preserving your smile. In many cases, taking preventative measures can significantly lower your risk. Below are some common causes of gum disease.
Poor Dental Hygiene
When brushing, flossing, and regular dental visits are neglected, plaque and tartar are not removed and the gums and bone around the teeth become affected by bacterial toxins. This can cause gingivitis or periodontitis, which ultimately lead to tooth loss.
According to research, smoking and using tobacco are two of the most influential factors that lead to the development and progression of gum disease. Smokes and tobacco users experience a slower recovery and healing rate. Additionally, they are far more likely to suffer the accumulation of tartar build-up on teeth, the development of deep pockets in the gingival tissue, and the terrible side effect of significant bone loss.
Medications, Diabetes & Underlying Medical Issues
Many drugs such as oral contraceptives, anti-depressants, and heart medicines affect the overall condition of teeth and gums, causing them to be more susceptible to gum disease. Steroid use promotes gingival overgrowth, which makes swelling more likely and lets bacteria colonize more freely in the gum tissue. Diabetes hinders the body’s ability to utilize insulin, which makes the bacterial infection in the gums more difficult to control and cure. Many other medical conditions can intensify or accelerate the onset and progression of gum disease including respiratory disease, heart disease, arthritis, and osteoporosis.
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Other Causes of Periodontal Disease
Clenching or grinding teeth can significantly harm the supporting tissue that surrounds them. Grinding teeth is usually associated with a “bad bite” or tooth misalignment; however when a person is suffering from gum disease, the additional damage of gingival tissue due to grinding can fast-track the advancement of the condition.
Pregnancy and Menopause
Regular brushing and flossing is critical during pregnancy and menopause because hormonal changes within the body can cause the gum tissue to become more sensitive. As a result, women become more susceptible to gum disease during these stages.
As much as 30% of the population may have a strong genetic predisposition to gum disease. People with this type of genetic predisposition are six times more likely to develop periodontal disease than individuals without it. Genetic tests can be used to identify your susceptibility. If you are genetically predisposed, early intervention treatment can be undergone to keep your oral cavity healthy.
Treating Gingivitis and Periodontal Disease
If treated promptly by your Tuscaloosa, AL cosmetic dentist, the effects of gingivitis are completely reversible, and will not lead to gum disease. However, if disease is present, your Tuscaloosa, AL dentist will perform deep cleaning procedures such as scaling and root planning in deep pockets. Antibiotic and antifungal medications may also be prescribed to treat infection and halt the progression of the disease.
In the case of tooth loss, your dentist can perform tissue grafts to promote natural tissue regeneration, and insert dental implants if a tooth or several teeth are missing. Where gum recession causes a “toothy” looking smile, your dentist can re-contour the gingival tissue to create an even and aesthetically pleasing appearance.