Do you know the leading cause of tooth loss in the developed world? If you were going to guess periodontal disease, also called gum disease, you would be correct. Nearly half of all American adults over age 30 are affected by gum disease, which is linked to Alzheimer’s disease, pancreatic cancer, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and more health problems. If you’re wondering what are some symptoms of gum disease and what to do about it, learn more with Asheville, NC periodontal dentist Dr. Jody Harrison.
Causes of Periodontal Disease
Oral bacteria left behind on the teeth and gums needs to be removed by regular brushing and flossing. If this bacteria remains on the teeth too long, it hardens into a substance called tartar, which cannot be brushed away. Tartar erodes tooth enamel and causes the gums to become swollen and inflamed as the body’s immune system tries to get rid of the bacteria. As the gums swell, they form small pockets around the teeth, which allow even more bacteria to invade.
There are other factors that can contribute to gum disease, such as:
- Poor nutrition
- Grinding and clenching teeth, called bruxism
- Hormonal changes such as puberty, pregnancy, or menopause
- Smoking and tobacco use
Gum Disease Stages
The first stage of gum disease is gingivitis, which is inflammation of the gums that has not reached the bone. Gingivitis is a mild and reversible form of periodontal disease, as the teeth are still firmly planted in their sockets. With gingivitis, plaque has built up on the teeth and inflamed the gums. If left untreated, this inflammation can reach the underlying bone and develop gum disease.
Periodontal disease is when the destruction has reached the underlying bone. The pockets created by gum inflammation deepen and more gum tissue and bone are affected. Eventually, due to loss of support, the teeth can become loose and fall out.
What Are the Symptoms of Periodontal Disease?
Patients suffering from gum disease will often find that their gums are bleeding. There are usually other symptoms accompanying your bleeding gums:
- Persistent bad breath or bad taste in the mouth
- Painful and swollen gums
- Loose or shifting teeth
- Gums pulling away from teeth or forming pockets
- New spaces between teeth
Asheville NC Periodontal Dentist
Periodontal disease can be painless; some people don’t even know they have it. A periodontal evaluation with x-rays is the best way to find and treat gum disease. If it’s been a while since you’ve been to the dentist, or if you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, see your dentist soon. Taking care of your periodontal disease now not only improves the health of your mouth but can also have a have a positive effect on your overall health.
Don’t wait to find out if your bleeding gums are developing into gum disease. Visit the periodontal dental office of Dr. Harrison in Asheville NC by scheduling an appointment online or call us at (828) 255-8100.