Gum disease, also known as periodontal inflammation, is a condition in which the soft tissues and the bone surrounding teeth are damaged. According to the survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) about half of the US population suffers from some form of gum disease.
Despite being a common infection that affects humans worldwide, periodontal disease can be easily prevented – by knowing what causes it in the first place. This article provides an overview of the factors that result in the development of periodontal disease.
What Causes Periodontal Disease?
The most important factor that results in gum inflammation and periodontal disease is the dental plaque, a sticky film that forms on the surfaces of our teeth whenever we eat something. Normally, the plaque is removed from the teeth when we brush our teeth. However, when oral hygiene measures are ignored and the plaque remains untreated, it gradually hardens to become the calculus. Both calculus and plaque offer the perfect environment for the disease-causing bacteria to flourish and replicate.
The Initial Stage of Periodontal Disease
These harmful bacteria utilize the sugars in the dental plaque for their growth and in turn, release toxins that begin to damage the fibers that attach our gums to our teeth and jawbone. This situation – which is clinically evident as swollen, tender, or bleeding gums – marks the first stage of periodontal disease. At this stage, which is clinically known as gingivitis, the damage can be easily reversed with a professional cleaning and oral hygiene maintenance.
Advanced Periodontal Disease
If gingivitis is not treated timely, it progresses into an advanced periodontal inflammation – where the inflammation spreads deeper into the structures surrounding the teeth. The toxins released from the harmful bacteria result in extensive destruction of the gums and the jawbone. As a result, the gums begin to recede, exposing the roots and making the teeth mobile in their sockets. Further delay in treatment may result in tooth loss and other complications.
What are the Risk Factors for Periodontal Disease?
There are certain risk factors that can increase the risk of developing periodontal disease:
- Poor oral hygiene
- Hereditary predisposition
- Hormonal changes; menstruation, menopause, or pregnancy
- Stress or anxiety
- Weak immune system
- Chronic underlying medical condition
Periodontal disease can cause serious damage to your oral health – and even your overall physical health – if it is not treated timely. The good news is that periodontal disease can be easily prevented; simply by maintaining optimal oral hygiene. If you observe any initial signs of periodontal inflammation such as swelling, redness, bleeding, you should visit your dentist right away for treatment. The sooner gum inflammation is diagnosed and treated, the higher are the chances of complete recovery.
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