Swollen and bleeding gums, if left untreated, can become a serious problem as you may enter the advanced stage of periodontal disease better known as periodontitis. Unlike gingivitis, which is the early stage of periodontal disease and seldom painful, periodontal disease is a painful inflammatory gum infection that can destroy the soft tissue and bone structure, resulting into tooth decay and loss.
But the destructive capability of this gum infection doesn’t end here. It goes beyond opening gateway to more severe health problems like increased risk to cardiac attack, strokes and high blood sugar level.
Periodontitis—What Causes it?
Periodontitis is primarily the result of poor oral hygiene which triggers the periodontal bacteria that is naturally present in our mouth to get into action. Poor oral hygiene provides periodontal bacteria the ideal condition to grow in number and eventually become harmful. The ideal conditions for periodontal bacteria are created when the layer of plaque starts to build up on your gums because of the leftover particles of food and drinks in the mouth that you consume daily.
If this layer is not removed through brushing, the bacteria deposit minerals in the plaque with time. It hardens into tartar. Tartar serves as the breeding ground for bacterial growth, helping bacteria to thrive and multiply.
The harmful by-products of bacterial growth stimulate your body’s natural defensive inflammatory response. This causes gum inflammation and swelling which creates gaps or pockets between gums and teeth. If left unchecked, these pockets begin to fill with tartar and plaque. The swelling in the soft tissue traps plaque in the gaps which damages the tissues and bone that surrounds the tooth and eventually results in tooth loss.
Alarming Signs of Periodontitis
Signs that indicate that you might have periodontitis include:
- Gum inflammation
- Bright red or purple gums
- Your gums hurt when you touch them
- Receding gums—your teeth begin to look longer
- Spaces and gaps between your teeth
- Pus may develop between your gums and teeth
- Bleeding when you brush or floss
- Bad breath
- Loose teeth
- It feels different than the usual when you bite your food
Factors that Can Put You at Risk for Periodontitis
Besides poor dental care, other factors that can increase your risk of developing this condition include frequent tobacco use, hormonal changes, medications that reduce saliva, genetics, AIDS, and diabetes. Studies show that the risk of periodontitis is high in females, especially during pregnancy, puberty and post-menopause due to hormonal changes.
Complications of Periodontitis
Failure to seek immediate treatment for periodontitis can expose you to numerous medical conditions such as:
Having long term gum infection can increase your risk of strokes and heart attacks. Research shows that the periodontal bacteria have the tendency to travel through the bloodstream and into the arteries. It causes the narrowing of arteries and triggers inflammation that leads to heart attack. Besides this, it can also develop blood clots which increase the chances of experiencing a stroke.
Complications during Pregnancy
Pregnant women suffering from periodontitis are more likely to have premature babies as compared to women who have healthy gums. It is believed that periodontitis limits fetal growth inside the womb and produces high levels of substances that induce labor.
Those people who already have lung problems and are suffering from periodontitis can become victims of pneumonia. Periodontal bacteria, when inhaled from the mouth into the lungs, can cause pneumonia.
Increased Blood Sugar Level
Though diabetes puts you at a higher risk of developing periodontal diseases, the gum infection can further aggravate this problem by shooting up your blood sugar level which is harder to control.
Treatment for periodontitis must be sought right away. In general, treatment for this infection is performed using a combination of medication and non-invasive therapies like scaling and root planning. However, if you have more advanced periodontitis, your dentist may advice you soft tissue grafting, bone grafting or a flap surgery.
Please call (208) 342-0315 to schedule an appointment today with our experienced periodontist, so that our periodontist can examine your mouth and determine the right treatment for your case.