Is there a connection between gum disease and heart disease?

Periodontal disease (gum disease) is an inflammatory disease. Heart disease is also an inflammatory disease. It is suspected that 'inflammation' may be the foundation behind their relationship. If left untreated periodontal disease can increase inflammation in the body - increasing inflammation within your cardiovascular system. However, more research is needed to determine the exact relationship between the two conditions.

Is there a link between gum disease and diabetes?

Research has suggested people with diabetes are more susceptible to contracting infections. Since periodontal (gum) disease is an infection of the gums, people with diabetes are more likely to have periodontal problems. One of the most common complications of diabetes is in fact periodontal disease. Likewise, research suggests that periodontal disease can affect blood sugar levels in turn increasing risk for diabetes.

What are common symptoms of periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease often begins without pain or discomfort. Some of the sings that you may notice will include:

  • Red or swollen gums
  • Gums may be tender or exhibit pain
  • Gums may bleed while brushing, flossing, or when eating
  • Receding gums or gums that pull away from the teeth.
  • Loose or separating teeth
  • Pus between your gums and teeth
  • Sores in your mouth
  • Persistent bad breath that won't go away
  • A change in your bite, or a shift in the teeth like crowding or spacing that didn’t exist before

If you notice any of these symptoms, be sure to contact your dentist or periodontist and schedule an exam to determine the cause of your symptoms. 

Is gum disease contagious?

Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria under the gums. Technically the disease is not contagious. However, the bacteria that cause periodontal disease can be spread through saliva. It’s a good idea to avoid contact with the saliva of individuals that are diagnosed with periodontal disease. 

What are the consequences of missing teeth?

There are several consequences to missing teeth.

  • Affects the look of your smile
  • Affects the look of your face - sometime making skin sag; making you look older then you are. 
  • Difficulty chewing your food properly
  • Affects your speech
  • Often promotes lower self-confidence
  • Difficulty in adding implants later as bone deteriorates without the supporting tooth.

Can my child develop periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is not common in children and rarely found in adolescents. Despite the low risk your child has in developing periodontal disease, they should still develop good hygiene habit while they are young. Children, like adults, should brush their teeth twice a day and learn how to floss properly. 

The warning signs for gum disease are the same in children as in adults. Periodontal disease may appear as red, swollen, bleeding gums or bad breath that won’t go away. If your child develops any of these symptoms, contact your dental professional right away. Since family health history and genetics may play a role in the development of periodontal disease, it is important to inform these matters to your dentist if any signs of periodontal disease develop. 

I have big gums and short teeth, so when I smile you can almost only see my gums. I don’t smile very often anymore because I am so self-conscious of my gums. Is there a way to improve my smile?

Yes, there may be a way to enhance your smile. It’s a good idea to discuss your options with a periodontist first. He or she can explain the best way to create the smile you want, as well as answer any questions that you may have. For example, one procedure that can remove excess gum tissue is called crown lengthening. After the excess gum tissue is removed, the gum line is then reshaped in order to create the right proportion between the gum tissue and tooth surface. Your general dentist and periodontist may also work together to coordinate additional treatments such as veneers or crowns. However, your periodontist and general dentist will recommend the best procedure to improve your smile.

What can I do 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 a day on preventative measures may save you the time and money of treating periodontal disease!

What causes periodontal disease?

To adequately treat and prevent gum disease, it is necessary to gain information about the common causes of the condition. Periodontal disease simply refers to any oral health issue affecting the gums. Periodontal disease is usually caused by the accumulation of plaque on the teeth, which can cause redness, infection, or inflammation.

The mouth is home to many bacteria. These bacteria feed on the food debris left inside the mouth to form sticky plaques on the teeth. Regular brushing and flossing can remove plaque. If plaques are not removed, they harden into tartar that cannot be cleaned by brushing. Only the dentist or dental hygienist can remove tartar during a professional cleaning.

Some factors can predispose people to a higher risk of gum disease, but smoking is the most prevalent. Smoking can also hamper gum disease treatment. Other risk factors include diabetes, medications that cause dry mouth, hormonal changes in women, certain illnesses (such as AIDS), and genetics.

What does periodontal treatment entail?

Periodontal treatment targets all the symptoms that are related to gum disease. The dentist will recommend minimally invasive treatments: Deep cleaning (including scaling and root planing) performed by the dental hygienist for patients with deep gum pockets and chronic gum disease. When these options are not effective to get rid of the disease, the patient may need to undergo oral surgery.