Gum disease is one of the most widespread dental health issues in adults today, and is the leading cause of adult tooth loss in the United States. Its overall destruction isn’t due to the fact that gum disease is difficult to detect, or impossible to control. On the contrary, like most dental health issues, gum disease is highly preventable, and can be easily controlled even if it’s allowed to develop. The infection’s prevalence is largely due to poor oral hygiene and neglect; although patients may notice the signs of gum disease, they may not recognize the danger that those signs entail and neglect to seek treatment. Gum disease begins as an infection that results from the excessive buildup of bacteria-laden dental plaque. As the germs in plaque accumulate along your gum line, they attack the connective tissues holding your gums to your teeth, causing gums to recede and become inflamed. Lake Forest dentist, Dr. James Fondriest, can help detect and treat gum disease before the damage becomes too severe, but only if you recognize the symptoms, and the dangers, of gum disease and seek treatment as soon as possible.
The Symptoms of Gum Disease
As oral bacteria settle into your gums, the infection irritates the sensitive tissues, which show signs of the irritation but don’t exhibit pain or discomfort. Even if they don’t hurt, bleeding and inflamed gums mark the beginning stage of gum disease, known as gingivitis. Patients who seek treatment for angry-looking gums can often reverse gingivitis before gum disease fully develops. When ignored, however, gum disease progresses and slowly destroys the gums and jawbone that support your teeth, leading to tooth loss if not addressed and adequately controlled.
A Close Look at the Gum Disease Germ
An adult human mouth contains over 600 identifiable kinds of bacteria, most of which are harmless in manageable numbers. As anaerobic microbes, oral bacteria thrive without oxygen, and as they gather, the germs produce the sticky biofilm, dental plaque, to protect them from saliva and your mouth’s other natural defenses. Poor hygiene allows plaque to build up excessively, increasing the risk to your oral health as the bacteria multiply. One specific bacterium, Porphyromonas gingivalis, is notorious for its ability to manipulate the body’s immune system, particularly its inflammatory response to malicious microorganisms. As the immune system attempts to fight P. gingivalis and the germ evades its attempts, the unchecked inflammation slowly destroys vulnerable gum tissue.
The Oral-Systemic Connection
Chronic inflammation is a contributor to more than just aggressive gum disease. Diabetes, heart disease, dementia, and a host of other systemic illnesses are also linked to uncontrolled inflammation in various parts of the body. According to reports by the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP), the inflammation linked to severe gum disease may be a significant risk factor in other chronic inflammatory diseases, as well. In the grips of gum disease, compromised and bleeding oral tissues can allow P. gingivalis and other oral bacteria to enter a patient’s bloodstream. As it travels through the body, the gum disease germ can incite inflammation in other tissues, increasing the risk of developing or exacerbating a chronic systemic illness.
Preventing Gum Disease for Better Health
Preventing and controlling gum disease depend on removing infectious bacteria from underneath the gum line to allow the damaged periodontal tissues to heal. If a section of gum tissue is irreversibly damaged by the infection, then Dr. Fondriest may recommend you visit a periodontal specialist to repair the tissue, possibly with a gum graft and extensive periodontal therapy. Improved hygiene and closer attention to your oral health will be necessary to ensure that the infection is under control, and Dr. Fondriest will give case-specific instructions for continuing routine exams and cleanings.
About Lake Forest Dental Arts:
Aside from providing expert family and cosmetic dentistry services to our community, Dr. James Fondriest also holds highly-respected academic appointments at the Pankey Institute in Key Biscayne, FL, and the Spear Institute in Scottsdale, AZ, and he is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Prosthodontics at the University of Florida Dental School. At Lake Forest Dental Arts, Dr. Fondriest combines his impressive array of experience with modern technology and caring, compassionate, and knowledgeable staff, and we proudly serve patients from Chicago and all surrounding communities. To schedule your consultation, call our office today at (847) 234-0517.