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Gum disease or periodontal disease (also known as periodontitis) is an inflammatory condition affecting ...


Gum disease or periodontal disease (also known as periodontitis) is an inflammatory condition affecting the tissues surrounding a tooth. It is recognized as the leading cause of tooth loss. Gum disease may initially appear as gingivitis and may progress to periodontitis, if left untreated.

  • Gingivitis is a bacterial infection of the tissues in the mouth and the first sign that a patient is at risk for periodontal disease.
  • Periodontal disease is another type of bacterial infection in which the toxins produced by the bacteria affect the teeth's connective tissue and bone.

The Signs of Gum Disease

As the infection progresses, the bone may recede and the gums may or may not recede. In some cases, the roots of the tooth may become exposed; this exposure may cause tooth sensitivity. Furthermore, pus may be produced, and pockets may form between the gum and tooth. These symptoms are possibly reflective of periodontal disease.
It is important to visit your dentist for professional examinations and dental cleanings to identify gum disease. For example, bone recession is not visible to the naked eye and, if left undetected, may contribute to tooth loss. Let's explore some of the common signs of gum disease:

  • Bleeding gums during tooth brushing or otherwise
  • Sensitive, red or swollen gums
  • Bad breath
  • Teeth that are loose or appear to have shifted

Causes of Gum Disease

  1. Improper Dental Hygiene: If plaque is not removed through daily dental hygiene practices and regular professional dental cleanings, bacteria may set in and cause gingivitis.
  2. Organic Changes in the Mouth: Changes in hormone levels during pregnancy, puberty, and menopause may make teeth more susceptible to gum disease. This is because changes that occur in metabolism during these time periods may affect the organic balance in the mouth.
  3. Medical Conditions: Serious conditions that affect the body's ability to produce sugar (such as diabetes or kidney disease) may contribute to periodontal disease. Furthermore, the Center for Disease Control has found an association between illnesses and gum disease. These diseases include stroke and heart attack. Finally, certain medical conditions and medications used to treat medical conditions may produce the overgrowth of gums. Overgrown gums are more susceptible to bacteria that can contribute to gum disease.
  4. Saliva Flow Inhibitors: Certain medications that may produce oral side effects or dry mouth syndrome (xerostoma) may contribute to reduction of protective saliva flow, potentially leading to gum disease. Seniors may be more susceptible to dry mouth syndrome because of the natural reduction of salivary flow that is associated with age and medications.
  5. Poor Functional Habits: Teeth grinding or clenching may impair the surrounding tissue and is a possible contributor to gum disease.