Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, gingivitis or pyorrhea) is a bacterial infection of the gums and jaw bone. The infection may cause some or all of the following symptoms:
1. red or swollen gums
2. bleeding when cleaning teeth
3. sore, tender or itchy gums
4. gums receding-teeth look longer
5. bad breath
6. change in bite- teeth don't fit together anymore
7. loose or protruding teeth
8. increased space between teeth - teeth separating
Gum disease begins when a layer of bacteria is allowed to build up on the teeth - especially in between the teeth. This layer of sticky, colorless bacteria, called plaque, produces substances that are toxic to the gums and bone, causing the gums to become red, swollen and likely to bleed easily. This early stage is gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and if caught early enough it can be stopped and reversed with good professional care and faithful good cleaning by the patient.
If left untreated, the bacterial toxins and enzymes that caused the gums to be red and sore stimulate a long term inflammation in which the body attacks itself, adding to the destruction already being caused by the bacterial infection. This destroys the bone that holds in the teeth. The bone dies back and the gums separate from the teeth causing pockets , deep, narrow spaces between the gums and the teeth, where still more bacterial infection builds up. The destruction is often painless.
As more bone loss occurs, the teeth loosen. Research shows that the bacteria and pus from the infection in the pockets can contribute to dental and medical complications. There can be contributing factors that make the bone loss worse.
1. Diabetes - diabetics are more susceptible to infections, including periodontal disease.
2. Un-even bite, clenching or grinding of the teeth - excessive force on the teeth can be transmitted into the bone, causing quicker, more severe bone loss. In cases of moderate to severe bone loss, "normal" forces (200 to 500 psi) can be destructive. To put this in perspective, 90 psi can severely damage automotive test vehicles. During grinding or clenching, forces of 1000 psi to even 1500 psi can be exerted on the teeth. Auto balers that crush cars for recycling exert operating forces of 2500 psi.
3. Medications - anti-seizure drugs, oral contraceptives, anti-depressants, infertility therapy and some cardiac medications can affect periodontal health.
4. Poor nutrition - inadequate vitamin C and calcium can affect oral and general health.
5. Pregnancy or puberty - hormonal fluctuations may make women more susceptible to periodontal disease.
6. Smoking & tobacco use - smoking is a significant risk factor for gum disease.
7. Stress - physical and emotional stress and depression reduce resistance to infection.
8. Systemic diseases - HIV, immune suppression and rheumatoid arthritis worsen periodontal disease.
© 2005 - 2006 Dr. Richard Davidson,
All Rights Reserved. All Images & Information are owned by Dr.Richard Davidson,
and may not be reproduced without his written permission.