You may be hearing a lot more about periodontal disease these days than you have in the past. The reason is simple – periodontal disease (gum disease) is a serious public health concern that affects millions of people.
In fact, the Centers for Disease Control estimate that nearly half of all Americans over the age of 30 have gum disease. That’s a whopping 64,000,000 people with mild, moderate, or severe periodontal disease.
Why We’re Worried
According to the American Academy of Periodontology, periodontal disease is a bacterial infection that attacks healthy gum tissue and the bone that supports your teeth.
Without treatment, periodontal disease can eventually lead to tooth loss. In fact, statistics indicate that gum disease is the number one cause of tooth loss in adults. Recent studies also show that periodontal disease is associated with other chronic inflammatory diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes.
Symptoms of Gum Disease
One reason that gum disease is so prevalent is that many people suffer the symptoms without being aware that they even have an infection. Some symptoms can be subtle, and worse yet, in many cases gum disease can progress without any warning signs at all.
So in the interest of keeping our patients informed about this oral health threat, we’ve shared a list of conditions that indicate you may already have periodontal disease:
- Bleeding Gums: This is a very common indicator of gum disease. Many people experience bleeding when brushing but have become so used to it that they don’t realize it’s a serious problem. Bottom line: if your gums bleed when you brush, you’ve got some degree of periodontal infection.
- Inflamed, Tender Gums: This symptom goes hand in hand with bleeding gums. Plague and its bacteria sit on your teeth and irritate sensitive gum tissue. Inflammation of your gums is simply your body’s response to this “invasion.”
- Loose Teeth: Unless you’re a toddler, it’s not normal for your teeth to feel loose. When gum disease is left unchecked, it can begin to destroy the bone and tissue around your teeth and create a space that we call periodontal pockets. These pockets not only give your teeth room to move around, they are also a perfect breeding ground for even more bacteria.
Protecting Your Teeth from Gum Disease
You may be very proactive about your oral hygiene, and if you are, you’re already doing your part to stay one step ahead of gum disease. But this is not a battle you can fight alone, because the only way to prevent or get rid of periodontal infection is with routine professional cleanings.
If you are overdue for a dental cleaning, please contact our Wilmington dental office. One of our trained hygienists will work with you to develop a treatment plan that will include monitoring the health of your gums to prevent periodontal disease.