Periodontal (or gum) disease is an inflammation of the gums that, if left untreated, can lead to permanent damage of the bones and fibers that protect your teeth. Seniors should be aware of the three stages of gum disease.
- Gingivitis: In this stage, the gums become inflamed due to a buildup of plaque along the gum line. And if this plaque is not properly removed through brushing and flossing every day, toxins begin to form – resulting in gingivitis. This often results in bleeding when you brush your teeth. However, it’s not too late to reverse the damage of gingivitis. In this stage, the bacteria from the plaque have not yet reached the bone and connective tissues that hold your teeth in place.
- Periodontitis: If gingivitis goes untreated, the plaque buildup creates bacteria that infect both your gums and teeth. This progresses to the tissues and bones that surround your teeth – called periodontitis. While this cannot be reversed, you can get professional treatment to help prevent it from getting worse.
- Advanced Periodontitis: When periodontitis has the opportunity to keep growing, the connective tissues and bones that protect your teeth are completely destroyed. The results can be loose teeth, an uneven bite, tooth decay and/or permanent tooth removal. At this stage of gum disease, the damage is irreversible.
How do you know if you have gum disease?
The symptoms of gum disease can be subtle because they don’t often cause pain. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t visual warning signs to look for, such as:
- Bleeding gums while tooth brushing
- Gums that remain red, swollen or tender
- Receding gum line
- Bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth is always present
- Pockets of space between gums and teeth
- Teeth that feel loose or have shifted
- Change in bite
How can you get treatment for gum disease?
Treatment for the early stages of gum disease starts at home by properly brushing and flossing your teeth to remove plaque. And it is equally important to see your dentist for the recommended twice-a-year cleaning. Your dentist has the right tools to remove the plaque that has hardened into tartar. They can also spot any problems before they manifest.
Did you know …
Your dental health can directly affect your overall health?
Several studies have shown that a lack of oral hygiene can negatively affect more than just your teeth. Some of the most common consequences of neglecting to take care of your teeth are:
- Heart Disease: Bacteria from inflamed gums – a symptom of periodontal disease – can get into your bloodstream, putting you at greater risk of a heart attack or stroke.
- Diabetic Complications: Periodontal disease can make it more difficult to control your blood glucose levels. People with diabetes are more vulnerable to periodontal disease, making good dental care even more important.
- Respiratory Infections: Breathing in bacteria from infected teeth, over time, can cause infection in your lungs, including pneumonia.