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We all want a healthy, beautiful smile. Straight and unstained teeth are a desire for many of us. While braces and teeth whitening kits can make your smile brighter and straighter, the real foundation of a healthy and beautiful smile starts at the gums. 

If your gums aren’t healthy, your smile isn’t healthy. The CDC reports that an average of 47.2% of adults aged 30 years and older have some form of periodontal (gum) disease. And that percentage increased to 70.1% for adults aged 65 years and older! 

While this time of year is filled with resolutions to have a happy and healthier life, don’t forget to include your oral health! 

What is Periodontal Disease?

Before we talk about Periodontal Disease, we need to discuss it’s precursor. Gingivitis – a more commonly heard condition – is considered the earliest stage of gum disease and comes with inflammation of the tissues surrounding the teeth. Typically caused by inadequate oral hygiene practices, Gingivitis is a very common condition that usually precedes full Periodontal Disease. 

It’s common symptoms include: 

  • Frequently bleeding gums 
  • Red and inflamed gums 
  • Swollen or painful gums 

Periodontal Disease differs from Gingivitis in a few ways. While Gingivitis is inflammation in the gums, periodontitis occurs below the gumline when the actual bone gets inflamed or infected. Rather than just surface gums being inflamed, your teeth’ bone and supporting structure become infected, and the gums will begin to recede away from the teeth. Gum pockets can form from this and will readily collect plaque and bacteria that can further damage the teeth and gums. 

These gum pockets are unreachable to clean – and because of that – bacteria can continue growing. As Periodontal Disease continues to progress, more bone tissue is lost, and eventually may even cause complete tooth loss. 

Causes of Periodontal Disease

Healthy people can have hundreds of different types of bacteria in their mouth at any given time. These bacteria are often harmless as long as you keep up with a proper oral hygiene regimen. However, if your regimen is lack-luster or certain risk factors are in play, you’ll become susceptible to Periodontal Disease. 

Some causes can include:

  • Poor Dental Hygiene 
  • Smoking 
  • Diabetes 
  • Hormonal Changes 
  • Autoimmune Conditions 
  • Genetics 
  • Poor Nutrition 
  • Aging 
  • Stress

Symptoms of Periodontal Disease 

There are a variety of symptoms that come with Periodontal Disease that you should be on the lookout for:

  • Bad Breath 
  • Loose Teeth 
  • Receding Gums 
  • Swollen or Tender Gums 
  • Pain when Chewing or Brushing 
  • Bleeding Gums 
  • Bad Taste in Your Mouth 
  • Bright Red or Purple-Tinted Gum Color 

Treatments for Periodontal Disease 

Because Periodontal Disease damages the bone, it is not reversible. However, with the right action steps taken, Periodontal Disease can go into remission and not cause further harm to your oral health. 

Some at-home practices to put into place include:

  • Brush teeth twice per day with a Fluoride toothpaste 
  • Use an electric toothbrush 
  • Floss at least once a day 
  • Don’t smoke or chew tobacco 

Professional Solutions for Treating Periodontal Disease:

  • Bi-annual dental cleanings 
  • Antibiotics prescribed by your dentist 
  • The perio protect method®
  • Scaling and root planing 
  • Surgery 

Our team at Loudoun Smile Center offers comprehensive periodontal maintenance along with high-quality bi-annual cleanings. Treatment is available, and relief from Gingivitis and Periodontal Disease is right at your fingertips when you schedule your dental appointment! Make sure to add “Improving the health of your smile” as a top New Year’s resolution this year!