The Origins of Gum Disease

Among American adults, the threat of gum disease, medically known as periodontal disease, is a very real and potentially dangerous condition. Between 70 and 80 percent of the national population over the age of 40 is affected by the disease to some extent.

Although genetics may play a small role in its development, doctors agree that gum disease is most often directly related to how well people care for their teeth and gums.

Gum disease is particularly dangerous because the progression of the disease is gradual and often painless. Therefore, it can go undetected until serious problems have already developed.

The build up of plaque on and around the teeth promotes the growth of tartar and bacteria, which is where gum disease originates. In the first stage of gum disease, called gingivitis, the bacteria begin to weaken the fibers that hold the gums to the teeth. Signs of gingivitis include swelling, inflammation, and bleeding of the gums. Once the disease escalates, which is referred to as periodontitis, the gum tissues have decayed significantly and pulled away from the teeth. By this point, the bones below the teeth have usually become infected and begun to dissolve.

Periodontal disease is very common and, unfortunately, many people don’t know they have it until it’s too late for conservative treatment. Dr. Ryan Hussong, a comprehensive care dentist in Polk City, Iowa, can diagnose and treat gum disease in the early stages if you have regular dental checkups and cleanings every six months. For periodontal disease, early detection and treatment is key to maintaining a healthy mouth and avoiding the serious problems that often accompany gum disease, including Alzheimer’s, heart problems, risk of stroke, diabetes, pregnancy complications, and others. To reserve an appointment with Dr. Hussong, call Cornerstone Dental at (515) 984-6001.