What is Periodontal Disease?

The term “periodontal” means “around the tooth.”  Periodontal disease (also commonly referred to as periodontitis and gum disease) is common inflammatory condition that affects the supporting and surrounding soft tissues of the tooth and eventually affecting the jawbone.

While everyone has bacteria in their mouths not everyone develops gum disease.  We have always known that bacteria causes gum disease.  But, what causes the bone loss around the teeth is the release of certain enzymes by your gum cells in response to the bacteria.  When your gums are inflamed, these enzymes can enter into your blood stream and have effects elsewhere in the body.  Thus, it has become extremely important to eliminate any ongoing gum inflammation.

Periodontal disease rarely causes pain or any noticeable symptoms since the infection readily drains up through the gums.  Often you cannot tell you even have gum disease until the gum is inspected and checked for pockets.  It’s like having termites in your house.  Above the ground the house looks fine, but the foundation is slowly being destroyed without you even knowing it.

When the gums are chronically inflamed, these bacteria can gain entrance into your bloodstream and spread to other parts of your body.  Gum disease increases the risk for heart disease, it is linked to pulmonary infections, gastric ulcer reinfections, increases the risk for pre-term and low birth weight in babies, diabetics it makes control of blood sugar more difficult.  Tobacco users are at a higher risk for developing gum disease, because of the nicotine.  Gum disease can also affect people who are overweight, because your body over-produces “inflammatory mediators”.  Some of these mediators make it easier for gum disease to take root and worsen.

The progression of gum disease can be halted if the bacteria and debris are removed from these pockets.  It is very important that you see your dentist and hygienist every few months so that they may evaluate your gum tissues.  They may also recommend that some patients need to be seen more frequently to maintain their existing periodontal condition, the less inflammation the better the tissues are and the better overall health and well being of the patient.

Dr. Julie Pruneski is the dentist and owner of Whispering Pines Dental located at 690 Cooper Foster Park Road in Lorain Ohio.  Dr. Pruneski is a current member of the American Dental Association, Ohio Dental Association, Lorain County Dental Society, Academy of General Dentistry, and American Academy of Facial Esthetics.  To reserve an appointment with Dr. Pruneski, call 440-282-2023.  Check us out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/whisperingpinesdental.

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