Periodontal disease, or gum disease, affects more than 50% of adults over the age of 30. Luckily, if it is caught in time, it is possible to stop it from spreading and even reverse the damaging effects. Here are some expert answers to common concerns:

Can I do something extra at home to prevent periodontal disease?

The best way to prevent periodontal disease is to take good care of your teeth and gums at home. This includes brushing your teeth after every meal and before bedtime, flossing at least once each day, and seeing your dentist or periodontist for regular exams twice a year. Spending a few minutes each day on preventative measures may save you the time and money of treating periodontal disease in the future.

What are common signs and symptoms of periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is often silent, meaning symptoms – particularly pain – may not appear until an advanced stage of the disease. However, you should still be on the lookout for the signs and symptoms, which include:

  • Red, swollen or tender gums or other pain in your mouth
  • Bleeding while brushing, flossing, or when eating certain foods
  • Gums that are receding or pulling away from the teeth, causing the teeth to look longer than before
  • Loose or separating teeth
  • Pus between your gums and teeth
  • Sores in your mouth
  • Persistent bad breath
  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • A change in the fit of partials or dentures

Is periodontal disease contagious?

Research has shown that periodontal disease is caused by the inflammatory reaction to bacteria under the gums, so periodontal disease technically may not be contagious. However, the bacteria that cause the inflammatory reaction can be spread through saliva.

This means that if one of your family members has periodontal disease, it’s a good idea to avoid contact with their saliva by not sharing eating utensils or toothbrushes.

If you notice that your spouse or a family member has the warning signs of a possible periodontal problem (bleeding, red and swollen gums, or bad breath) you may want to suggest that they see the periodontist for an exam. It may help to protect the oral health of everyone in the family.

How is gum disease linked to cardiovascular disease?

Research has shown that periodontal disease may increase the risk for developing cardiovascular disease. Both are chronic inflammatory diseases, so researchers believe that inflammation may account for the association between the two.

Untreated periodontal disease can increase inflammation in the body in general, which may increase the risk for development of more severe health complications, including cardiovascular disease.

What if I have periodontal disease and don’t seek care?

Periodontal disease usually begins very mild. Gums might be red and irritated, or swell. Bad breath or constant bad taste may be a burden on daily life. However, if left untreated, it can lead to a worse condition, and infections can take over.

Tartar and bacteria invade deeper into the gum tissue, damaging the underlying bone and detaching gum tissues. You may now experience receding gums, bone damage, and eventually, tooth loss.

The effects of periodontitis can spread beyond your oral health. As bacteria and tartar continue to grow, they can enter your bloodstream and travel throughout your body causing other health problems such as arthritis, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

As bacteria and tartar continue to grow, they can enter your bloodstream and travel throughout your body causing other health problems such as arthritis, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

It is critical to treat periodontal disease before it impacts your overall physical health. If you are unsure whether you are at risk, a visit to a periodontist will help to give you piece of mind.

Schedule a periodontal screening today at DrKarlSmith.com.

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Dr. Karl Smith
Dr. Karl Smith has been in dental practice for over thirty-four years. He received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1981 and immediately entered General Practice in the US Air Force Dental Corps. He successfully completed three additional years of advanced education in the specialty of Periodontics with additional training in IV Sedation and Dental Implants in 1992, at the University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio and Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center. He won the John Pritchard Prize for outstanding research which included looking for a vaccine against bacteria that cause periodontal disease. Dr. Smith completed a Master of Business Administration degree with a Certificate in Health Services Management while working full time as a Periodontist. In his free time Dr. Smith enjoys traveling nationally and internationally. He is an expert skier and enjoys playing other sports including tennis. Family time with his five children and many grandchildren is also very important to him. Dr. Smith's team describes him as a dentist with superpowers! They know that when he speaks with his patients, he does so with a great deal of care and concern, and because he has a genuine desire to improve their lives and smiles! Dr. Smith is a member of many dental organizations including the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Periodontology.