Hormones – Particularly for women, the soft tissue (gums) in the mouth may react to the hormonal changes at the onset of puberty, menopause or pregnancy. In fact, recent studies show that pregnant women with periodontal disease are seven times more likely to deliver preterm, low-weight babies!
Diabetes – Diabetics are at a higher risk of developing infections (including periodontal disease). If a diabetic’s body is busy fighting off an infection, it may impair their body’s ability to process and use insulin.
Types of Gum Disease
There are two main types of periodontal disease: gingivitis and periodontitis.
Gingivitis is a condition that affects the “gingiva” or gums, also known as soft tissue. Gingivitis is the mildest form of gum disease and is usually manifested in red, swollen, and tender tissues, and bleeding of tissues during brushing, eating, and flossing.
Periodontitis develops when gingivitis is left untreated and when plaque spreads below the gum line. When this happens and the body starts reacting to the infection, both tooth and gum tissues start to break down leading to gum recession, root canals, extractions, or tooth loss.
Symptoms of Gum Disease
If you experience any of these symptoms, either one or several, report them to your dentist immediately.
- red, swollen, tender gum tissue
- bleeding while brushing, flossing, or eating
- gum recession (where the gum pulls away from a tooth, making it appear longer than normal and maybe exposing the root)
- loose teeth
- persistent bad breath (which is caused by bacteria)
Treatment for Gum Disease
The most common treatment for periodontal disease is scaling and root planing. During this procedure a hygienist or dentist will scrape below the gum line to clean away any plaque and calculus (tartar or hardened plaque) out of the pockets that have developed as a result of the presence of bacteria. They may also follow up with anti-bacterial rinses.
For many patients this will be sufficient and aside from having to be more diligent in their brushing and flossing will likely not have another flare up.