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Have you noticed blood in your sink after brushing your teeth lately? Bleeding while brushing can be one of the first warning signs of Periodontal Disease. In its earliest stages, it manifests as gingivitis and only infects your gums. However, if left untreated, the disease can travel below your gum line, infecting your bones, and evolving into Periodontal Disease.

The Prevalence of Periodontal Disease

Periodontal Disease, or more commonly known as gum disease, is a common infection that involves inflammation around the tooth. This inflammation damages the soft tissue and bone supporting the tooth. Without treatment, the alveolar bone around the teeth can be lost over time. The disease can also cause tooth loss and can increase the risk of stroke, heart attack, and other health complications.

According to the recent findings of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately half of Americans aged 30 and up have periodontal disease. These findings indicate that the disease affects upwards of 64.7 million Americans. A variety of risk factors can be an indicator if someone will experience the disease. Some can be attributed to inherited or genetic susceptibility, but others are caused by smoking, lack of adequate hygiene practices, age, diet, health history, and certain medications.

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What Causes Periodontal Disease

Microorganisms, such as bacteria, can stick to both the surface of the tooth and in the pockets surrounding it. Once this bacteria has the opportunity to multiply, the immune system reacts, releasing toxins, and inflammation occurs. Bacterial plaque, which takes the form of a sticky, colorless membrane, can develop over the surface of the teeth and is often the most common cause of Periodontal Disease. If the plaque is not removed, it can eventually harden to form tartar.

Luckily, most cases of gum disease are completely preventable through good dental hygiene!

Treating Periodontal Disease

Maintaining good oral hygiene practices is one of the easiest and most effective ways to treat gum disease. Proper dental care involves brushing twice daily and flossing once daily.

A more in-depth treatment can include scaling, which involves a dental professional cleaning below the gumline. This can be done using hand tools or an ultrasonic device that breaks up plaque and tartar. This method of cleaning is recommended to be completed twice a year.

While these tips can be useful in preventing and treating the disease, it’s important to note that there is no replacement for 6-month check-ups with a dental professional.