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How can I tell if I have gingivitis or periodontitis (gum disease)?

Four out of five people have periodontal disease and don’t know it! Most people are not aware of it because the disease is usually painless in the early stages. Unlike tooth decay, which often causes discomfort, it is possible to have periodontal disease without noticeable symptoms. Having regular dental check-ups and periodontal examinations are very important and will help detect if periodontal problems exist.

Periodontal disease begins when plaque; a sticky, colorless, film of bacteria, food debris, and saliva; is left on the teeth and gums. The bacteria produce toxins (acids) that inflame the gums and slowly destroy the bone. Brushing and flossing regularly and properly will ensure that plaque is not left behind to do its damage.

Other than poor oral hygiene, there are several other factors that may increase the risk of developing periodontal disease:

Smoking or chewing tobacco

Tobacco users are more likely than nonusers to form plaque and tartar on their teeth.

Certain tooth or appliance conditions

Bridges that no longer fit properly, crowded teeth, or defective fillings that may trap plaque and bacteria.

Many medications

Steroids, cancer therapy drugs, blood pressure meds, oral contraceptives. Some medications have side effects that reduce saliva, making the mouth dry and plaque easier to adhere to the teeth and gums.

Pregnancy, oral contraceptives, and puberty

Can cause changes in hormone levels, causing gum tissue to become more sensitive to bacteria toxins.

Systemic diseases

Diabetes, blood cell disorders, HIV / AIDS, etc.

Genetics may play role

Some patients may be predisposed to a more aggressive type of periodontitis. Patients with a family history of tooth loss should pay particular attention to their gums.

Signs and Symptoms of Periodontal Disease

Brushing and flossing help control the plaque and bacteria that cause dental disease.

Plaque is a film of food debris, bacteria, and saliva that sticks to the teeth and gums. The bacteria in plaque convert certain food particles into acids that cause tooth decay. Also, if plaque is not removed, it turns into calculus (tartar). If plaque and calculus are not removed, they begin to destroy the gums and bone, causing periodontal (gum) disease.

Plaque formation and growth are continuous and can only be controlled by regular brushing, flossing, and the use of other dental aids.

Red and puffy gums

Gums should never be red or swollen.

Bleeding gums

Gums should never bleed, even when you brush vigorously or use dental floss.

Persistent bad breath

Caused by bacteria in the mouth.

New spacing between teeth

Caused by bone loss.

Loose teeth

Also caused by bone loss or weakened periodontal fibers (fibers that support the tooth to the bone).

Pus around the teeth and gums

Sign that there is an infection present.

Receding gums

Loss of gum around a tooth.

Tenderness or Discomfort

Plaque, calculus, and bacteria irritate the gums and teeth.

Good oral hygiene, a balanced diet, and regular dental visits can help reduce your risk of developing periodontal disease.
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