Oral hygiene should be a priority, and this is not limited to caring for the teeth. Gums should be part of the equation since neglecting it can result in negative health effects. Gum or periodontal disease is an infection or inflammation of the gums, commonly caused by plaque.
Gums are susceptible to inflammation (gingivitis) when left to be attacked by bacteria in sticky or hardened plaque. When inflamed and damaged, the gums may lose their ability to hold the teeth. This article in the Journal of the American Dental Association lists the signs of periodontal disease:
"Symptoms of periodontal disease include
- gums that are red and swollen and bleed easily (for example, when you brush or clean between your teeth);
- gums that seem to have pulled away from the teeth;
- constant bad breath;
- pus between your teeth and gums;
- teeth that seem to be loose or moving away from one another;
- change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite;
- change in the way your partial dentures fit."
Signs of periodontal disease warrant immediate attention because of its threat to overall health. Tooth loss or root damage are common painful consequences of this condition. Gum disease may also lead to severe bacterial infections such as endocarditis or the inflammation of the endocardium, the inner layer of the heart. Bacteria from the mouth can travel through the bloodstream and end up in the heart. An immediate consultation with your emergency dentist in Philadelphia is highly recommended, especially when the symptoms indicate an advanced stage of periodontal disease, such as extreme pain and pus.
The extent of the gum infection can be determined by visualization, the most basic of which are X-rays. In the early stages of the condition, your dentist can perform simple cleanings in order to get rid of plaque and prevent progression of the disease. If need be, radical approaches like dental implants, laser therapy, oral surgery and tissue grafts can be considered.
Early recognition of signs and preventive measures like regular checkups will be great, but in any case, a specialist should be consulted. Further information and treatment options can be discussed when you schedule an appointment with a reliable Philadelphia emergency dentist like Dr. Gerald Regni, DMD.
(Article Information and Image from What is gum disease?, Journal of the American Dental Association)