What is Periodontal Disease?
The main cause of periodontal disease (gum disease) is bacterial plaque. This bacteria, if left untreated on your teeth, causes damage to the gums and the bone that supports your teeth; this can lead to premature tooth loss. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, other factors also affect the health of your gums. The following are a list of factors to look for:
Smoking/ Tobacco use
Many studies have shown that smoking is one of the most significant risk factors in the development and progression of periodontal disease. If you are a smoker, you must be evaluated by a Periodontist regularly.
According to the American Diabetes Association, approximately 15 million Americans have diabetes. Diabetics are more prone to developing infections, including periodontal disease.
Furthermore, recent research shows that the connection between diabetes and periodontal disease goes both ways. Periodontal disease may make it more difficult for a diabetic patient to control their blood sugar level. So, diabetics who have periodontal disease should be monitored and treated to eliminate the periodontal infection.
It is important to see a Periodontist on a regular basis if you are a diabetic patient.
Studies show that over 30% of the population may be genetically predisposed to periodontal disease. Therefore, the American Academy of Periodontology recommends that if one member of a family has lost his/her teeth early in life, or has been treated for periodontal disease, all other family members should be evaluated as well.
Some drugs such as oral contraceptives, antidepressants, anti-seizure medications and certain heart medications can affect your oral health. If you have noticed any changes in your mouth, such as dry mouth, bad breath, swollen or bleeding gums, and you take medications, consult a Periodontist for a complete evaluation.
Respiratory and periodontal disease
Growing research suggests that if you have periodontal disease, you may be at increased risk for respiratory disease. If you think you are at risk or have a respiratory condition, see a Periodontist for an evaluation- because healthy gums may lead to a healthier body.
Clenching or grinding
Do you think you grind your teeth? Is your jaw sore from clenching your teeth during the day? Clenching or grinding your teeth puts extra pressure on teeth and can accelerate periodontal problems.
If you notice soreness in your facial muscles or joint, a clicking sound when opening and closing your mouth, along with discomfort, you may also be suffering from TMJ disorder.
Consult a Periodontist for an evaluation and possible treatment of TMJ disorder.
Stress has long been linked to many serious conditions such as cancer and hypertension. Now, research confirms that it is also a major risk factor for periodontal disease.
Heart disease and Stroke
Researchers have found that people with periodontal disease are twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease as those without periodontal disease. Additional studies have proven that people who have suffered from a stroke were more likely to have periodontal disease.
Pregnancy and periodontal disease
It's possible that if you have periodontal disease and are pregnant, you may be seven times more likely to have a premature, low birth weight baby.
The American Academy of Periodontology recommends that women who are considering pregnancy or are pregnant, to have regular periodontal evaluations.