If you visit a dental hygienist (like me) and we tell you that you have periodontal disease, don’t be TOO alarmed. Periodontal disease is also known as gum disease, and in most cases it can be as simple as a minor gum inflammation, which is highly treatable. In more serious cases, though, it can cause major damage to the bone and tissues in your mouth.
But don’t panic! You’re part of a large group. In fact, a high percentage of adults in the United States have some form of periodontal disease. It most often develops when plaque – bacteria in the mouth – hardens and collects on your gum line.
If left untreated, this can cause gingivitis (you’ve probably heard your dentist talk about that or seen it in toothpaste commercials.) Symptoms of gingivitis are swollen and red gums that bleed easily when you floss. The good news is, it’s easily treated with brushing, flossing and visits to your dentist and hygienist.
If you DON’T treat gingivitis, though, you could end up with periodontitis – which is much more serious. Periodontitis means “inflammation around the tooth” and it actually makes your gums pull away from your teeth. This creates pockets that can become infected and cause plaque to spread to your bones and tissue. The worst case scenario is your teeth may need to be removed.
Ok, enough scary talk. As long as you brush twice daily and floss often, visit your dentist regularly and avoid smoking, you can improve your chances of avoiding periodontal disease.