The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that almost 50 percent of American adults have mild, moderate or severe periodontal disease. In adults over the age of 65 this percentage increases to 70%. Periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects your gums and the bone around your gums. Your gums are responsible for protecting the bone that holds your teeth in place as well as helping to enhance your smile. If your gums are not maintained they can become red, swollen and if left untreated can cause the destruction of the underlying bone. Bone loss can lead to loose teeth that can ultimately affect your smile as well as your ability to chew and speak. Research has also shown that periodontal disease is associated with other chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Sometimes there are other diseases that can affect the health of your gums but most often dental plaque causes inflammation that leads periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is divided into two categories: gingivitis and periodontitis.
Gingivitis is most often caused by dental plaque. Dental plaque is a sticky biofilm made up of bacteria. It sticks to your teeth and concentrates at the area where the teeth join with the gums. The bacteria in plaque produce toxins that causes the gums to become red, inflamed and swollen. If your gums bleed when you brush or floss it is because of this bacterial inflammation. If the plaque is not removed it can irritate your gums to the point where the gums separate from the teeth and a small pocket is created. If you remember the hygienist calling out numbers the last time you were in for a visit he or she was recording the size of these pockets. Plaque that is not removed can calcify and become what is known as tartar or calculus. If gingivitis is not treated and it progresses it will be reclassified as periodontitis. At this point the gums and bone around the teeth will deteriorate without intervention.
Fortunately gingivitis and periodontitis are diseases that can be managed. Gingivitis and Periodontitis can be controlled with regular check-ups, professional cleanings, and proper brushing and flossing.
If you suspect that you may have periodontitis, or if it’s just been a while since you’ve had your teeth cleaned, call us today at 208-853-2221 to schedule an appointment.