iStock_000035729244Large  mouth painDid you know that nearly 50% of all Americans have some form of periodontal disease (also called gum disease)? If you are among those 50%, then you should be paying attention to how to get rid of it in your mouth. If you are not careful, periodontal disease can lead to bone loss.

So what is periodontal disease? “Peri” means around, and “odontal” refers to teeth. Periodontal diseases are infections of the structures around the teeth. These include the gums, the cementum that covers the root, the periodontal ligament and the alveolar bone. The three stages — from least to most severe — are gingivitis, periodontitis and advanced periodontitis. In its most mild form, the disease can be seen as inflammation of the gum tissue. In more severe cases it results in major damage to soft tissue and bone, and can even lead to loss of teeth. Whether you are dealing with bleeding gums or bone loss, you can take action to prevent periodontal disease from progressing.

What Causes Periodontal Disease?

One of the biggest culprits of periodontal disease is inadequate brushing and flossing. Both are important in getting rid of plaque-causing bacteria from the mouth. Additional risk factors include diabetes, other illnesses, use of certain medications, hormonal changes in women and genetic susceptibility. The best way to avoid periodontal disease is by maintaining good oral health.

What Are the Stages of Periodontal Disease

The first stage is gingivitis, which is inflammation of the gums. Warning signs include red and swollen gums that may bleed easily. Gingivitis is a mild form of periodontal disease that can be remedied by regular brushing, flossing and cleanings by your dental hygienist. Gum disease at this stage does not include bone and tissue loss.

Periodontitis presents itself when gingivitis is not properly addressed. The inflammation has now moved from just being in the gums to being around the tooth. Gum tissue moves away from the tooth and forms pockets of infection. In advanced periodontitis the bones, gums, and tissue that support the teeth can be destroyed.

How Do You Prevent Periodontal Disease?

Prevention is key in avoiding any disease including periodontal disease. Taking care of yourself now will help in preventing problems in the future. Good oral health is more than fighting bad breath and having clean teeth. It is a reflection of your self esteem and how you take care of the rest of your body. Get a jumpstart on prevention and keep yourself looking and feeling young and healthy!

Prevent periodontal disease by implementing the following habits:

Brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste

Floss regularly to remove plaque from between the teeth

Visit your dentist every six months for your routine check-up and cleaning

Don’t smoke

Pay attention to these four easy tips, and you will have healthy and happy gums and teeth and a winning smile. And periodontal disease won’t be a problem for you.

Source: National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research