The Scary Truths Of Periodontal Disease
- June 20, 2016
Periodontal disease is a widespread problem in America. It’s estimated that about 50% of all adults in the U.S. have some form of gingivitis, the early stage of periodontal disease. Yet not many people know much about it, and worse, many do not get the treatment they need for it. We have ways to detect and treat periodontal disease at our Aventura, FL dentist office, but many people seem too afraid to make an appointment. Knowing might be worse than not knowing, they think. But what’s really scary are the truths about periodontal disease.
What Is Periodontal Disease?
“Periodontal” means having to do with your gums, so periodontal disease is a disease affecting your gums. There are two stages:
- Gingivitis is the early stage. This is when harmful bacteria cause plaque and tartar to build up on your teeth, irritating your gums and often causing them to bleed. But at least the bacteria haven’t infected the gums yet.
- Periodontitis is the advanced stage that happens when gingivitis is untreated for too long. In this stage, the bacteria have gotten under your gumline and infected your gums.
Restorative dentistry like fillings can remove bacteria that are on the surface of your teeth. Root canals can remove a bacterial infection when it’s inside a tooth. But periodontal disease is unlike either of these and cannot be covered over with cosmetic dentistry or fixed with dental restorations. Here are the truths about periodontal disease. Some are a little scary.
- Your breath can be bad — a lot. That bacteria can do more than just cause tartar. They can cause your breath to smell bad, which means as long as they are thriving in your mouth, you can continue to have bad breath. Mouthwashes and mints can mask the odor, but the only way to solve the problem is to treat the periodontal disease.
- Bleeding gums are not normal. If you notice that your gums are bleeding after regular brushing and flossing, you should know that is not supposed to happen. Yes, using a toothbrush with hard bristles or flossing too vigorously can cause a small amount of bleeding on occasion, but if you’re bleeding most of the time, that’s a sign periodontal disease could be present.
- Brushing and flossing are not enough. You should brush and floss regularly because both help to keep tartar and bacteria under control. But there’s a good reason you are supposed to visit a dentist every six months. Dr. Bistritz has the specialized training and equipment to give your teeth and gums a thorough cleaning. Without regular visits, you run the risk of tartar buildup — which can help periodontal disease get worse.
- Your gums can look awful. When your gums are irritated or infected by bacteria, they can get red and swollen. In advanced cases of periodontal disease, they can start to recede away from the teeth. All of this can make your smile look so bad, you could be embarrassed just to smile.
- It can lead to problems with pregnancy. There are studies linking periodontal disease in pregnant women with premature births and low birth weights. While more research needs to be done to prove one causes the other, there is definitely a connection.
- Periodontitis cannot be cured. When you have gingivitis (the bacteria is still above the gumline), Dr. Bistritz can help get rid of it. But when the bacteria infects the gums and the disease progresses to periodontitis, that is incurable. You can keep the disease under control, but it will never fully go away.
- You might be more likely to develop heart disease or diabetes. As with pregnancy complications, there is not a direct “this causes that” link. However, studies have shown that people with untreated periodontitis can be more likely to develop heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
- You can have it without knowing it. Yes, there are definite signs of gingivitis and periodontitis. But for some people, those signs do not appear. It is entirely possible to have a problem with harmful bacteria and your gums without knowing it.
- Your teeth can fall out. When periodontal disease gets worse, it makes the gums pull away from the roots of your teeth. Not only does this provide more places for bacteria to grow, but it also can loosen the jawbone’s hold on your teeth. When left untreated, periodontitis can make your teeth fall out.
To learn more about how periodontal disease can be treated so you can save your teeth, or to schedule an appointment for another reason, call us today at 786-681-1127.
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