If you have bleeding gums, you may have periodontal disease. We're learning more about this common infection all the time. Below are some of the latest findings. It should help you understand why it's so important that you take action with your periodontist to eliminate periodontal disease, the sooner the better.
Some patients think swollen gums aren't as critical as tooth decay, but that's just not so. Periodontal disease begins as a minor infection and, if it doesn't show signs of stabilizing, is bound to get worse. Untreated, it can eventually result in tooth loss.
Type I periodontitis (gingivitis) consists of tender gums and a little bacteria-filled pocket between your tooth and gum. The disease is very treatable at this point. But if the infected pockets are allowed to enlarge, the inflammation extends to the bone beneath, which begins to erode.
There's another reason to take periodontal disease seriously. The Journal of the American Dental Association recently reported on a study of nonsmokers. Researchers found that periodontal disease was a stronger risk factor for heart disease than such typical symptoms as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. Also, periodontitis in pregnant mothers has been linked to premature and low birth-weight babies.
Your periodontist's concerns for your health don't stop with your teeth. That's why it's important, if you're suffering from gingivitis, that you schedule an appointment and get it treated. When you do, make sure you let your dentist know if you are also being treated for heart disease by your medical doctor.
DR. GARY SIGAFOOS