Periodontal health represents the health of your gums and the bone that surrounds and supports your teeth. Think of your gums as the foundation for your teeth. Without a healthy, stable foundation, you risk losing your teeth.
Gum disease is an infection of the tissues that surround and support your teeth. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, half of adults age 30 and older suffer from some form of gum disease. Because gum disease is usually painless, you may not know you have it. Also referred to as periodontal disease, gum disease is caused by plaque, the sticky film of bacteria that is constantly forming on our teeth. Plaque that isn’t removed eventually mineralizes and turns into calculus and tartar. Calculus can’t be brushed away with a toothbrush but actually needs to be “scraped” away professionally.
The early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. If you have gingivitis, your gums may become red, swollen and bleed easily. At this stage, the disease is still reversible and can usually be eliminated by a professional cleaning at your dental office, followed by daily brushing and flossing.
Advanced gum disease is called periodontitis. Periodontitis is a destructive process that can lead to the loss of tissue and bone that support the teeth and it may become more severe over time. If it does, your teeth will feel loose and start moving around in your mouth. It usually gets worse slowly, but there can be periods of rapid progression.
Risk factors associated with gum disease
There is usually no pain associated with the disease, although warning signs can include bleeding and swollen gums, unpleasant taste and breath, and loose and shifting teeth. Risk factors associated with gum disease are: Age; Smoking; Genetics; Stress; Various Medications; Clenching and Grinding; Various systemic conditions. See your dentist for an annual checkup and risk assessment.
Because it is possible to have gum disease and have no warning signs, regular dental checkups and periodontal examinations are very important. Treatment methods depend upon the type of disease and how far the condition has progressed. Good dental care at home is essential to help keep periodontal disease from becoming more serious or recurring.
Peri-implantitis is an inflammatory condition affecting the soft and hard gum tissues around dental implants. Similar to a natural tooth, bacteria can build up on the base of the implant, below the gum line. Over time, the bacteria irritate the gum tissue, causing it to become inflamed, damaging the tissue and if not caught early, causing the bone structure below the implant to deteriorate.
The up-side to dental implants is they function just like your natural tooth. The down side is, they are capable of becoming diseased just like a natural tooth. However, with a proper oral health routine, your teeth and dental implants can last a lifetime.