One of the most frequent causes of tooth loss in American adults is gum disease or periodontitis. An often painless condition, this inflammation of the gums has its source in the accumulation of plague at and below the gum line. Over time, the resulting debris and bacteria collect in pockets and push the gums away from the teeth, loosening them and causing gum recession, shrinkage of the jaw bone and tooth loss. In addition, gum disease is detrimental to a person's overall health.
What are the signs of gum disease?
The earliest form of gum disease, gingivitis, expresses itself with:
- reddened gums
- some bleeding during brushing
- no damage to the teeth or bone
The more advanced stage of gum disease, periodontitis, is much more obvious to both the patient and dental professional and includes these serious symptoms:
- gum tissue that is receding, giving an elongated look to the teeth
- swelling and bleeding of the gums
- formation of pockets in the gums where tartar and bacteria collect
- bad breath
- changes in the fit of a partial denture or in how teeth bite together
- destruction of the bony support for the teeth which results in their loosening and shifting
In these pockets, toxins collect as do naturally healthy enzymes which the body produces. Both the toxins and the enzymes work to break down healthy gums, teeth and bone.
What causes inflamed gums?
Many factors can set the stage for gum disease, including:
- poor oral hygiene, including infrequent brushing, flossing and professional cleaning
- hormonal fluctuations such as those experienced during puberty, pregnancy and menopause
- some prescription medications
- a weakened immune system as found in diabetics, cancer patients and those with HIV
- poor diet
How is periodontal disease treated?
The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) recommends many different treatments for gum disease. The dentist is the best person to determine the correct course of action. He may recommend a deep cleaning of the teeth to remove tartar and plaque build-up. Root planing and antibiotic treatments assist in closing pockets and in reattaching the gums to the teeth. Depending on the severity of the problem, surgeries such as bone and tissue grating, tissue regeneration and bone reshaping may be necessary.
Contact the offices of Scott Szatkowski DDS.
If you are experiencing the signs of gum disease or suspect you may have a problem, call the Elk Grove Village or Melrose Park, Illinois offices of Dr. Scott Szatkowski. Dr. Szatkowski has 25 years of practice experience and is eager to partner with you in achieving optimal dental health. In Elk Grove Village, call 847-437-8366, and in Melrose Park, 708-450-4533. His friendly, professional staff will set an appointment for a consultation.