Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is an infection of the gums and bone that surround your teeth. Bacteria and dental plaque are the main causes of the condition, but certain behaviors and other risk factors can increase your likelihood of developing the infection. If left untreated, gum disease can seriously damage your teeth and the surrounding bone and soft tissue.
At Benson Dental, we strongly advocate preventive dentistry, which means promoting habits that prevent gum disease from developing. For patients who already have gum disease or the milder gingivitis, our staff is here to help treat your condition.
Signs of Periodontal Disease
Early stages of gum disease (gingivitis) tend to have milder symptoms, but as the condition develops into full periodontitis, your teeth and bone tissue can start showing more serious problems. If you have some or all of the following symptoms, you should see Dr. Benson right away:
- Persistent bad breath
- Red, swollen, or irritated gums
- Receding gums (teeth look long)
- Tooth sensitivity
- Tooth loosening
- Pain or bleeding when brushing, flossing, or chewing
Gum Disease Causes and Prevention
Poor oral hygiene habits are the number one cause of periodontal disease. Even if you brush and floss regularly, certain risk factors can increase your likelihood of developing periodontal disease:
- Smoking and tobacco use increase your risk of developing gum disease. Smoking can also make patients who already have periodontal disease more resistant to treatment.
- Stress weakens the immune system, making it harder for your body to fight the bacteria that cause periodontal disease.
- Pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, and HIV can make it difficult to manage periodontal disease, but Dr. Benson can direct you on how to improve or maintain your oral health.
- Medications can decrease saliva production or suppress your immune system, which leads to more bacteria developing. Drinking more water can help keep the mouth from getting too dry. Talk to your doctor about your specific medications to find out what you can do to fight gum disease more effectively.
- Pregnancy and other hormone changes can affect your oral health, which is why it’s important to continue regular dental visits when you are pregnant.
Good oral hygiene practices, such as brushing twice a day, flossing regularly, and regular dental visits, are the best defense against periodontal disease. This is especially important if you have braces, bridgework, or other dental devices that make it harder to clean the teeth and gums. Regular dental visits are also crucial, even if you have excellent oral hygiene habits. Cleanings by a dental professional remove plaque buildup that gets trapped in hard-to-reach places.
Treating Gum Disease
In addition to your own oral hygiene efforts, Dr. Benson can put you on a more aggressive cleaning schedule to help remove plaque buildup and fight the infection. If the disease has started to affect your teeth, you may need additional dental work to prevent the infection from spreading. Some infected tissue may need to be removed to protect the rest of your mouth. Your dentist will be able to go over all your treatment options after performing an oral exam and some routine X-rays.
Periodontal Disease Management at Benson Dental
If you are experiencing gingivitis, periodontitis, or any general pain or sensitivity in your teeth, contact our office in Sioux Falls, SD. Dr. Bruce Benson has years of experience, and he will be happy to review your condition and find a treatment option that fits your needs.