Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults, according to WebMD.com. You hear about periodontal disease and gum disease, and know that you want to avoid them. But what is the difference between them, what exactly are they and how can you avoid getting them?
Gum Disease vs. Periodontal Disease vs. Periodontitis Explained
First, when your gums become inflamed or bleed easily while brushing, you are likely experiencing early stages of gingivitis, caused by plaque build up.
If left untreated, gingivitis can evolve into periodontal disease, which is also called gum disease or periodontitis. At this point, the inner layer of your gum and bone pull away from your teeth, forming pockets that can collect food particles or bacteria and become infected.
Meanwhile, the plaque can spread below your gum line. Eventually, the infection may invade your root, causing an abscess, pain, or tooth loss due to damage to your gum tissue and bone. And you know that losing one tooth can create a domino effect of more tooth loss that you don’t want to encounter!
Causes and Prevention of Periodontal Disease
So you might wonder if a little extra plaque build up can really cause periodontal disease. The answer is yes! Granted, some factors will affect your resistance to plaque build up, such as:
- More sensitive gums due to hormonal changes during puberty, monthly menstruation, pregnancy or menopause.
- Illness or disease including cancer, HIV or diabetes that suppress your immune response.
- Medications that decrease your saliva production and cause a dry mouth.
- Poor dental hygiene.
To avoid plaque build up, periodontal disease and tooth loss, it’s imperative to brush your teeth twice and to floss once daily. Plus your twice-yearly dental cleanings will clean out the plaque you can’t see or touch.
Now for some, practicing good oral hygiene and lifestyle choices will not necessarily fend off periodontal disease. The American Academy of Periodontology says that up to 30% of Americans may be genetically susceptible to gum disease. However, if gum disease runs in your family, it’s still crucial that you brush and floss regularly to keep food and bacteria from collecting in your mouth.
If you notice these signs of periodontal disease, contact The Happy Tooth location near you to make an appointment as soon as possible:
- Bleeding gums after brushing
- Red, swollen or tender gums
- Receding gums or pockets between your gums and teeth
- Persistent bad breath or bad taste in your mouth
- Loose or shifting teeth
- Changes in your bite or the way partial dentures fit
Periodontal disease, gum disease, and periodontitis are one in the same, and all start with gingivitis caused by excess plaque. You may be more prone to gum disease if it runs in your family. But you can minimize or prevent problems with your teeth easily, with proper dental hygiene and regular visits to your dentist.