It might seem typical for gums to bleed when brushing or flossing your teeth. However, these symptoms indicate the beginning of a developing condition called periodontal disease.
What Is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is a serious condition that can destroy the fundamental structure of your teeth. It can start with simple swollen and/or bleeding gums and progress over time to affect your overall health. Scientists have been studying the connection between periodontal disease and diabetes, respiratory disease, stroke and heart disease.
What Causes Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease begins with simple dental plaque that hasn’t been effectively cleaned from teeth. Plaque is the yellow substance that sticks to your teeth and, if not brushed and flossed away, results in tooth decay. Gums that are swollen and bleeding indicate that they’re infected with the bacteria found in plaque.
Signs of Gum Disease
Swollen and bleeding gums are early signs of periodontal disease. Eventually, plaque will spread along the gum line where it’s difficult to remove. When your gums swell, a space is formed between the gums and teeth, encouraging more bacteria to grow. If left untreated, periodontal disease can cause teeth to become loose and eventually destroy the periodontal ligament and alveolar bone.
Preventing Periodontal Disease
Brushing and flossing regularly, as well as visiting your dentist twice a year, can prevent periodontal disease. However, there are many additional ways to prevent periodontal disease:
- Avoid using tobacco – smoking increases the risk and severity of periodontal disease
- Clean crowded teeth – if your teeth are crowded or supported with bridgework, your dentist can recommend special tools to clean those hard-to-reach areas
- Keep from clenching your teeth – the excess pressure can add to the symptoms of periodontal disease
- Drink water – a dry mouth results in plaque build-up, so it’s important to drink plenty of water every day
How Is Periodontal Treatment Treated?
Another way to prevent and treat periodontal disease is to visit your dentist at least twice a year for a standard exam and cleaning; periodontal patients are often scheduled for visits every three months. Dr. Williams can talk with you about options if you require a more in-depth periodontal treatment.
After a basic cleaning, a periodontal treatment could include either a Periodontal Scaling or Root Planning and Scaling. Both treatments require more time and a certain amount of anesthesia depending on your personal needs.
If you have any trouble at all with your teeth or gums, see your dental professional as soon as you can to take the best possible care of your smile.