Let’s Talk about Periodontal Disease

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal Disease is a set or spectrum of conditions affecting the gums. Its chief hallmark is inflammation of the gum tissue, which can progress into more serious health issues that may result in tooth loss if left unabated. As periodontal disease in its many forms is among the more common oral health issues, it’s important for everyone to understand the basics of periodontal disease, know the early warning signs and symptoms, and to take steps to keep their teeth and gums healthy.

What is Periodontal Disease

At its core, periodontal disease is a series of infections of the gum tissue, leading to inflammation and other symptoms. It generally progresses through three stages, each with its own set of symptoms.

The first stage, gingivitis, maybe the single most common oral health problem. While it is the first step in the progression of periodontal disease, it’s also easily treatable—most of us have it at some point in our lives. The symptoms are fairly easy to recognize:

  • Gums that easily bleed while brushing and flossing
  • Red, swollen gums; gums that look puffy
  • Receding gum line
  • Bad breath

Regular brushing and flossing can prevent gingivitis, and it is most commonly treated by thorough teeth cleaning. In general, it’s easily reversible if caught in this stage.

In the second stage of periodontal disease, periodontitis occurs when the disease is allowed to progress unabated and is a much more serious condition than gingivitis. This stage of periodontal disease can result in real damage to the gums and the bone that supports your teeth. Symptoms of periodontitis include:

  • Gums that are tender to the touch
  • Swollen, bright red gums
  • Gums that are tender to the touch
  • Spaces developing between teeth causing periodontal pockets to form
  • A buildup of pus between teeth and gums
  • Bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth
  • Loose teeth that don’t fit together when you bite

The third stage, advanced periodontitis, is serious indeed, with damage to the gums, jaw bone, and teeth:

  • Swollen and bleeding gums
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Severe receding gums
  • Deep periodontal pockets
  • Teeth that are loose and
  • Misaligned teeth

As we’ve said, the final two stages of periodontal disease are where real problems can occur, including damage to the jaw bone, tooth loss, dental abscesses, and serious infections. The resulting damage can require surgery to fix or may involve dental implants to replace lost and damaged teeth.

Preventing Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease sounds serious and scary—because it can be—but the good news is that most of the time it’s easy to prevent. Regularly brushing and flossing your teeth, maintaining a healthy diet and good oral health practices, and regular checkups and cleanings go a long way toward preventing and treating periodontal disease before it gets serious. A smile is meant to last a lifetime, and healthy teeth and gums are an important part of overall health. Knowing the symptoms of periodontal disease, how to prevent it, and when to seek help are a key part of that process.