Bad breath (halitosis) is an embarrassing problem, but it can be more than that. If you’re experiencing a persistent bad taste in your mouth or sore gums, you may be suffering from periodontal disease.
A buildup of plaque and bacteria on your teeth irritates your gums and can damage your jawbone if left untreated. The infection can also spread to the rest of your body, leading to potentially life-threatening consequences.
What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is an infection that starts around the structures of the teeth. In its early stages, a buildup of plaque and bacteria result in gingivitis. Your body responds by attempting to eliminate the infection through the release of substances that cause inflammation.
In the advanced stage of the disease, known as periodontitis, your gums pull away from your teeth, creating pockets where bacteria continue to infiltrate. Brushing and flossing can’t reach this bacteria, and eventually, your gums begin to bleed and you may even suffer tooth loss. You could also suffer severe damage to your jaw or alveolar bone.
While most cases of periodontal disease are preventable with good oral hygiene practices, it is essential that you visit a dental office regularly for professional cleanings. Regular visits help keep plaque under control and ensure that harmful bacteria is not building up in hard-to-reach places. At Sunrise Dental, we generally recommend two cleanings per year.
Symptoms of periodontitis
Periodontal disease can cause a variety of dental issues and significant health problems throughout your body. Some of these symptoms may include:
- Bleeding and swollen gums
- Receding gumline
- Spaces appearing between teeth
- Persistent bad breath
- Tooth loss
In more severe cases, periodontitis can cause:
- Worsening lung conditions
- Lung problems like pneumonia
- Increased risk for cancer
- Worsening blood sugar control
- Premature birth in pregnant women
- Hardening of the arteries
- Arthritic flare-ups
The buildup of plaque and bacteria is the leading cause of periodontitis, but several other factors contribute to your risk of gum disease. Smoking and genetic susceptibility increase the risk of periodontal disease. Misaligned teeth make brushing and flossing more difficult, enhancing the formation of tartar and plaque below the gumline.
Grinding or clenching your teeth make any inflammation that is present more severe, leading to the breakdown of the periodontal ligament. Stress, fluctuating hormones, poor nutrition, and certain diseases have been known to increase the susceptibility to periodontitis.
Preventing periodontal disease
Regularly brushing and flossing can help prevent gum disease. Use Soft-Picks® to get into spaces that are small and hard to reach. Our dental team specializes in scaling and planing to remove plaque and treat periodontal disease.
Our professional cleanings remove any bacteria lodged in hard-to-reach areas, decreasing your risk of gum disease. Using an antibacterial mouthwash can help reduce inflammatory reactions in your mouth. Additionally, you should be extra diligent when cleaning between and around closely packed teeth or uneven surfaces.
If you’re dealing with bad breath and fear it may be the result of periodontal disease, call our office or request an appointment online.