Periodontal (gum) diseases, including gingivitis and periodontitis, are serious infections that, left untreated, can lead to tooth loss and other more serious medical problems. Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection that affects the gums and bone supporting the teeth and can affect one tooth or many teeth. It begins when the bacteria in plaque (the sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on your teeth) causes the gums to become inflamed.
In the mildest form of the disease, gingivitis, the gums redden, swell, and bleed easily. There is usually little or no discomfort. Gingivitis is often caused by inadequate oral hygiene but is reversible with professional treatment and good home care. If gum disease progresses, it becomes more difficult and expensive to treat. Unfortunately, with gum disease there are usually no symptoms until it is too late. Dr. Hagley has extensive training in the diagnosis of periodontal disease, so regular visits to Grand Rapids Dental Care can ensure early detection of gingivitis and prevent advancement of the disease.
Periodontal Disease Threatens Your Teeth and Your Health
If left untreated, gingivitis can advance to periodontitis. Over time, plaque can spread and grow below the gumline. Toxins produced by the bacteria in plaque irritate the gums and stimulate a chronic inflammatory response which destroys the tissues and bone that support the teeth. Gums separate from the teeth, forming pockets (spaces between the teeth and gums) that become infected. As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed. Often, this destructive process produces little or no symptoms but eventually, teeth may become loose and have to be removed.
Some Factors Cause Predisposition to Periodontal Disease
The main cause of periodontal disease is bacterial plaque, a sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on your teeth. However, other factors may cause an increase in susceptibility to gum disease.
- Smoking/Tobacco Use - Tobacco use is linked to many serious illnesses such as cancer, lung disease, and heart disease, as well as numerous other health problems. What you may not know is that tobacco users also are at an increased risk for periodontal disease. In fact, recent studies have shown that tobacco use may be one of the most significant risk factors in the development and progression of periodontal disease.
- Genetics - Research proves that up to 30% of the population may be genetically susceptible to gum disease. Despite aggressive oral care habits, these people may be six times more likely to develop periodontal disease. Identifying these people early and getting them into preventive treatment may help them keep their teeth for a lifetime.
- Pregnancy - During pregnancy, a woman's body experiences hormonal changes. These changes can affect many of the body's tissues, including the gums. This may make a pregnant woman more susceptible to gum disease. Gums can become sensitive, inflamed, and bleed more easily. For this reason, good oral hygiene is very important during pregnancy. Additionally, recent studies suggest that pregnant women with gum disease are seven times more likely to deliver preterm, low birth-weight babies.
- Stress - Stress is linked to many serious conditions such as hypertension, cancer, and numerous other health problems. It is also a risk factor for periodontal disease. Research demonstrates that stress can make it more difficult for the body to fight off infection, including periodontal diseases.
- Clenching or Grinding Your Teeth - Clenching or grinding your teeth can put excess force on the supporting tissues of the teeth and could speed up the rate at which periodontal tissues are destroyed.
- Diabetes - Diabetes causes altered levels of sugar in the blood. It develops from either a deficiency in insulin production (a hormone that is the key component in the body's ability to use blood sugars) or the body's inability to use insulin correctly. Diabetics are at higher risk for developing infections, including periodontal diseases. These infections can impair the ability to process and/or utilize insulin, which may cause the diabetes to be more difficult to control and cause infections to be more severe than in a non-diabetic.
- Poor Nutrition - A diet low in important nutrients can compromise the body's immune system and make it harder for the body to fight off infections such as gum disease.
- Other Systemic Diseases - Diseases that interfere with the body's immune system may worsen the condition of the gums.
Fortunately, we can treat periodontal disease. Regular visits to Grand Rapids Dental Care will ensure early detection and conservative treatment. Dr. Hagley has extensive training in the diagnosis of periodontal disease and will work closely with a periodontist when necessary to ensure successful treatment. If you're diagnosed with periodontal disease, we can provide several non-surgical treatments to help curb the negative effects of gum disease. Your periodontist may also recommend periodontal surgery, if the tissues do not respond to non-surgical therapy. Dr. Hagley will closely monitor your condition and recommend the most appropriate treatment for your long-term oral health.
Your Search for a Grand Rapids Dentist is Over!
Call today and reserve your appointment with Dr. Mike Hagley, Dr. Spencer Buchert and Dr. Rachel Buchert at our Grand Rapids dental office, we practice comprehensive dentistry for families in the Hibbing, Nashwauk, Deer River, and greater Itasca County areas. We look forward to helping you achieve a lifetime of happy, healthy smiles.