“You don’t have to brush all your teeth, just the ones you want to keep.”
Even though this quip seems a bit exaggerated, there is some truth at the heart of it. Periodontal disease (gum disease) is leading cause of tooth loss among adults, and almost 50 percent of adults over 30 have some form of periodontal disease.
Even more alarming is more than 70 percent of adults over 65 are affected. This disease affects gums and bone surrounding teeth and is a result of chronic infection and inflammation caused by harmful bacteria.
Your Partner in Preventing Periodontal Disease
When not removed on a daily basis, bacteria multiply and form a sticky film known as plaque. This plaque can spread below the gum line and eventually can harden into calculus (tartar). Once the plaque hardens into calculus, it can no longer be removed by brushing or flossing.
The dental hygienists in our Grand Island office will provide a professional cleaning to remove both plaque and calculus. They will assess any inflammation present in your mouth and educate you about the best ways to prevent future disease.
Stages of Periodontal Disease
Gingivitis is the mildest and first stage of periodontal disease. In most cases, gingivitis causes little or no pain. In this stage, the body is reacting to the infection caused by bacteria, and the gums become irritated. Symptoms may include red, swollen or bleeding gum tissue, much like having a sliver in your finger. Fortunately, at this stage, the infection and inflammation are reversible.
As the infection continues, the disease progresses. Gums begin to pull away from teeth, and the bacteria begin to destroy the tissues and bone that support teeth. If left untreated, teeth can become loose and even be lost.
If the dentists and the dental hygienists see signs of advancing disease, they may recommend a more intensive cleaning and more frequent visits to remove bacteria and monitor the infection. In some cases, a referral to a specialist for a periodontal evaluation may be necessary.
Warning Signs of Periodontal Disease
Even though you may not have pain with gum disease, there are signs that you should not ignore. If you notice any of the following symptoms, make sure to discuss them with the dental hygienist, Dr. Crouch or Dr. Waters at your next dental examination.
- Bleeding or tender gums
- Puffy, swollen gums
- Bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Gums that pull away from the teeth and make them look longer
- Changes in the way your teeth feel when you bite together
Several studies have shown that periodontal disease is linked to other types of chronic illness like diabetes and heart disease. The common element in this connection is the presence of chronic inflammation. Scientists have more to discover about this connection, but Dr. Waters, Dr. Crouch and team at Waters Family Dentistry are committed to being your oral health professional partner.
Another aspect of the disease scientists have been studying is the impact tobacco use has on periodontal disease. Studies have shown the various forms of tobacco are serious risk factors in the advancement of the disease. In fact, if you smoke, you have double the chance of developing periodontal disease as compared to a nonsmoker.
To find out if you are at risk for periodontal disease or have any of the symptoms, schedule your appointment today with one of our registered dental hygienists. You can reach our Grand Island dental office by calling (308) 382-1734.