Gingivitis and Periodontal Disease are not the same. Simple bacterial gingivitis is an infection of the gums only and can be remedied by good oral care including brushing and flossing. In this process, no permanent damage is done to the periodontium (gums, teeth and bone). When gingivitis is not treated, it can advance to “periodontitis” (which means “inflammation around the tooth.”) In periodontitis, gums pull away from the teeth and form “pockets” that are infected. The body’s immune system fights the bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line. Bacterial toxins and the body’s enzymes fighting the infection actually start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place. If not treated, the bones, gums, and connective tissue that support the teeth are destroyed. The teeth may eventually become loose and have to be removed. (NDICR website)
Risk Factors For Periodontal Disease
Smoking: Need another reason to quit smoking? Smoking is one of the most significant risk factors associated with the development of periodontitis. Additionally, smoking can lower the chances of success of some treatments.
Hormonal changes in girls/women and Pregnancy: These changes can make gums more sensitive and make it easier for gingivitis to develop.
Diabetes: People with diabetes are at higher risk for developing infections, including periodontal disease.
Stress: Research shows that stress can make it more difficult for our bodies to fight infection, including periodontal disease.
Medications: Some drugs, such as antidepressants and some heart medicines, can affect oral health because they lessen the flow of saliva. (Saliva has a protective effect on teeth and gums.)
Illnesses: Diseases like cancer or AIDS and their treatments can also affect the health of gums.
Genetic susceptibility: Some people are more prone to severe periodontal disease than others.
Clenching and grinding: These nocturnal activities can weaken the periodontium and cause the teeth to be loose. (NDICR website)
Prevention of Periodontal Disease
- Brush your teeth twice a day (with a fluoride toothpaste)
- Floss every day
- Visit the dentist routinely for a check-up and professional cleaning
- Eat a well balanced diet
- Do not use tobacco products
Symptoms of Periodontal Disease
- Bad breath that won’t go away
- Red or swollen gums
- Tender or bleeding gums
- Painful chewing
- Loose teeth
- Sensitive teeth