Gum Disease | NYC Manhattan Oral Surgery
Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is an infection of the tissues that support the teeth. Your teeth are supported by gum tissue, connective fibers that anchor the tooth root into its socket, and bone. These serious infections, when left untreated, can lead to tooth loss. The Manhattan NYC Oral Surgeons in the office of Dr. Elliott Ostro can help patients restore these tissues in order for you to keep your smile for a lifetime.
If periodontal disease is diagnosed at your annual check-up, our New York City oral surgeons provide several types of treatments, depending on the type of disease and how far the condition has progressed. Treatment is key to preventing periodontitis, an inflammation that can erode the ligament and bone beneath the gums and result in tooth loss.
Gum Disease Causes
The main cause of periodontal disease is bacterial plaque, a sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on your teeth. Brushing and flossing help get rid of plaque. Plaque that is not removed can harden and form “tartar” that brushing doesn’t clean. Only a professional cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist can remove tartar. There are other factors that lead to gum disease:
As you probably already know, tobacco use is linked with many serious illnesses such as cancer, lung disease and heart disease, as well as numerous other health problems. What you may not know is that tobacco users also are at increased risk for periodontal disease. In fact, recent studies have shown that tobacco use may be one of the most significant risk factors in the development and progression of periodontal disease. Additionally, smoking can lower the chances for successful treatment.
Despite aggressive oral care habits, research suggests that up to 30% of the population is genetically susceptible to gum disease. These people may be six times more likely to develop periodontal disease. Identifying these people with a genetic test before they even show signs of the disease and getting them into early interventive treatment may help them keep their teeth for a lifetime.
Puberty, Pregnancy and Menopause in Women
There are certain times in a woman’s life when extra oral care is necessary, specifically when you mature and change during puberty or menopause, and times when you have special health needs, such as menstruation or pregnancy. During these particular times, a woman’s body experiences hormonal changes that can affect many of the tissues in your body, including the gums. Your gums can become sensitive, and at times react strongly to the hormonal fluctuations, thus making you more susceptible to disease.
As you probably already know, stress is linked to many serious conditions such as hypertension, cancer, and numerous other health problems. What you may not know is that stress also is a risk factor for periodontal disease. Research demonstrates that stress can make it more difficult for the body to fight off infection, including periodontal diseases.
Some drugs, such as oral contraceptives, anti-depressants, and certain heart medicines, can affect your oral health by reducing the flow of saliva, which has protective effects on the mouth. Without enough saliva, the mouth becomes vulnerable to infections.
Clenching or Grinding Your Teeth
Clenching or grinding your teeth can put excess force on the supporting tissues of the teeth and could speed up the rate at which these periodontal tissues are destroyed.
If you are diabetic, you are at higher risk for developing infections, including periodontal diseases. These infections can impair the ability to process and/or utilize insulin, which may cause your diabetes to be more difficult to control and your infection to be more severe than a non-diabetic.
Other Systemic Diseases
Diseases that interfere with the body’s immune system may worsen the condition of the gums.
Poor Nutrition and Obesity
As you may already know, a diet low in important nutrients can compromise the body’s immune system and make it harder for the body to fight off infection. Because periodontal disease is a serious infection, poor nutrition can worsen the condition of your gums.
Types of Gum Disease
Gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontal disease. It causes the gums to become red, swollen, and bleed easily. There is usually little or no discomfort at this stage. Gingivitis is often caused by inadequate oral hygiene. Gingivitis is reversible with professional treatment and good oral home care. This form of gum disease does not include any loss of bone and tissue that hold teeth in place.
Untreated gingivitis can advance to periodontitis. With time, plaque can spread and grow below the gum line. The toxins produced by the bacteraia stimulate a chronic inflammatory response which breaks down and destroys the tissues and bone that support the teeth. Gums separate from the teeth, forming “pockets” (spaces between the teeth and gums) that become infected. As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed. Often, this destructive process has very mild symptoms. Eventually, teeth can become loose and may have to be removed.
Symptoms of Gum Disease
Periodontal disease is often silent, meaning symptoms may not appear until an advanced stage of the disease. However, warning signs of periodontal disease include the following:
- Red, swollen or tender gums or other pain in your mouth
- Bleeding while brushing, flossing, or eating hard food
- Gums that are receding or pulling away from the teeth, causing the teeth to look longer than before
- Loose or separating teeth
- Pus between your gums and teeth
- Sores in your mouth
- Persistent bad breath
- A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- A change in the fit of partial dentures
If you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms, do not hesitate to contact our offices and schedule an appointment with Dr. Ostro and his associates. Call (646) 862-7077 to protect your healthy smile.