According to American Academy of Periodontology, (www.perio.org), periodontal disease is the chief culprit behind most cases of adult tooth loss. The terms periodontal disease and gum disease are often interchanged with one another, but did you know that the two do not necessarily describe the same oral problems?
The difference between periodontal disease and gum disease:
For starters, periodontal disease is just one type of gum disease. Gingivitis, characterized by the inflammation of gums and bleeding (especially when brushing) which is caused by plaque buildup on the gums, is another.
However, gingivitis can turn into periodontal disease or periodontitis when left untreated. When this happens, the inner layer of your gums and bone begin to separate from your teeth. This creates deeper pockets between the tooth and the bone. These pockets catch food particles and bacteria, creating the perfect environment for infections.
So, the plaque on your teeth that caused your gingivitis can dig its way below your gumline, with subsequent infections and formation of abscesses. Your dentist or hygienist can locate and treat these areas for you. But that is not the entire story, left undetected and untreated, these areas become painful and lead ultimately to tooth loss. And you know that if you lose one tooth, the chances are high that you are at risk to lose another in the near future.
Risk Factors for Periodontal Disease
Everyone suffers from a little buildup of plaque on their teeth, but certain factors increase your chances of developing more plaque, leading to periodontitis. These factors include:
- Poor oral hygiene
- Gum sensitivity caused by hormone changes brought on by menstruation, menopause, pregnancy, and puberty
- Major illnesses including cancer, AIDS/HIV, diabetes—all of which affect the immune system
Tips for Prevention
Fortunately, preventing periodontal disease and tooth loss can be as simple as brushing twice a day and flossing once a day – for the rest of your life. It’s also important to see your dentist at least twice a year for bi-annual dental cleanings, which will remove any leftover plaque and buildup on your teeth even after your brushing and flossing.