Periodontal or gum disease is a pathological inflammation of the periodontal tissues (gum and bone support) surrounding the teeth. The inflammation of the gum line and the teeth support is a process and it occurs in three distinct stages, the initial stage is called gingivitis and it is characterized by the swelling, irritation, and redness of the gingiva, the second stage is called periodontitis and it is associated with the breakdown of the alveolar bone which connects the teeth to the jaw, while the final stage is called advanced periodontitis.
Periodontitis is usually characterized by the destruction of the supporting tissues of the teeth which leads to the development of cavities between the tooth and the gums. This in turn ultimately lead to teeth loss. It is common for those suffering from periodontitis to experience two distinct periods, the first being a period of rapid growth of the disease and second a period of remission.
Periodontitis operates in a covert way as it is painless and not easily detectable except during the early stages of the disease where patients may have bleeding gums as they brush their teeth. However, as the disease progresses, the bleeding stops and the signs of the disease are not very obvious again.
- Poor dental care habits: One of the major causes of periodontal disease results from not having a good dental habit that involves brushing twice daily and flossing atleast once per day. Additionally, habits like grinding and clenching of the teeth that are not entirely harmful by themselves can if done with relative consistency, lead to the development of other diseases especially if the gum was inflamed, to begin with. The simple truth is that these habits exert pressure on the oral cavity and increase the rate of ligament and bone breakdown.
- Poor nutrition:A good diet is crucial to maintaining a healthy oral cavity. Foods rich in vitamin C are essential as they help to increase the strengths of bones and teeth.
- Smoking and chewing of tobacco: Smoking of cigarette causes bad breath and tobacco chewing leads to the discoloring of the teeth and increases the likelihood of contracting periodontal diseases or even makes it worse for those who already have periodontal disease.
- Hormonal imbalance: Fluctuating hormonal levels in the body cause changes in the mouth. Stages like puberty, menopause, and menstrual cycles and even during pregnancy can make individuals highly vulnerable to gum disease.
- Genetics: Genes have been linked to individuals having a risk of contracting periodontal diseases. However, this risk can be greatly reduced and entirely prevented with good dental hygiene.
- Age: As individuals get older, it is very common for them to have issues with their teeth.
- Medications:Some certain medications are known to cause dry mouth which leads to having a mouth odor and consequently periodontal disease.
- Diseases:One of the symptoms of some diseases like diabetes is having a bad mouth odor which can be a precursor to periodontal disease.
- Eating garlic and onions
- Having braces or misaligned teeth
Periodontal disease can be very silent and covert in the way it spreads. Most times, it is painless and not easily detectable. It is, however, advisable to be on the lookout for the following signs;
- Bleeding gums or Tendons
- Red swollen gums
- Chewing food with pains
- Persistent Mouth odor
- Sensitive teeth
- Loose teeth
- Awful taste in the mouth
- Receding gums
- Visible pus surrounding the teeth and gums
The best way to determine that one has a periodontal disease is to visit the dentist, who will then review the medical history of the patient to confirm if he/she cultivates harmful habits like smoking and drinking etc. that causes periodontal disease.
The dentist will also examine the patient’s mouth in search of plaques and bleeding gum. He may also use the dental probe to measure the pocket depth of the groove between the patient’s gum and teeth. Dental X-rays may also be done to access those interior areas of tooth loss that the dentist cannot see with his naked eye.