Two of the most common dental diseases are tooth decay and periodontal disease. Here is some information to help detect the early onset of either one.

Tooth Decay – Tooth decay is a disease that damages and breaks down teeth. Each tooth has three layers, the more layers affected, the worse the damage. Untreated tooth decay can lead to pain, loss of teeth, and even loss of confidence. Dental abscesses are also commonly found in patients with severely untreated tooth decay. These abscesses can cause serious and even life-threatening infections when not properly treated.

Bacteria in the mouth feed on sugars found in foods and drinks. The bacteria then produce acids that attack the teeth. Eventually, the acids will eat away at the teeth and cause decay, which is more commonly known as cavities.

People of all ages are at risk for tooth decay. However, there is an increased risk to those who sip and snack on foods that are high in sugar, drink bottled water (bottled water doesn’t contain fluoride which helps to protect the teeth), have dry mouth, have weak enamel, don’t brush or floss twice daily and to those who don’t visit the dentist regularly.

Tooth decay can be prevented! Brush your teeth twice daily along with flossing once a day, avoid frequent sugary foods and drinks, drink water with fluoride, and visit your dentist on a regular basis.

Periodontal Disease – Periodontal disease (also known as gum disease) is an infection of the gum and bone that hold teeth in place. If periodontal problems are not treated, they can become severe and may eventually lead to tooth loss. Healthy gum tissue fits like a cuff around each tooth. In the early stages of periodontal disease, the gum tissues are damaged causing pockets at the gum-line allowing harmful bacteria to grow and create difficulty in practicing effective oral hygiene.

There are quite a few different stages of periodontal disease that can affect individuals of all ages including children. The first stage is gingivitis. Gingivitis is the mildest form and causes the gums to be red and swollen. They may also bleed easily. Secondly is chronic periodontitis. This form of the disease results in inflammation within the supporting tissues of the teeth. You may also experience gum recession. Next following is aggressive periodontitis. This is a highly destructive form of the disease. Symptoms include the rapid loss of tissue attachment and destruction of bone. The last two forms of the disease are the most severe.

Periodontitis can be a manifestation of systemic diseases, such as diabetes. Patients who have rare but specified blood diseases or genetic disorders frequently show signs of periodontal diseases. And lastly, necrotizing periodontal diseases. This form is characterized by the death of the gum tissues, ligaments and bone. It is most commonly associated with pain, bleeding and a foul odor. Contributing factors to this stage can include emotional stress, tobacco use and HIV infection.

It is possible to have periodontal disease without apparent symptoms, however, there are several warning signs that can indicate the onset of this problem:

  • gums that bleed easily
  • red, swollen or tender gums
  • gums that have pulled away from your teeth
  • persistent bad breath
  • pus between the teeth and gums

Periodontal disease can be prevented. Keeping up with good oral hygiene habits is the first step in prevention. Brush twice daily and floss at least once a day. See your dentist regularly for your dental cleanings and check-ups. Paying special attention to your teeth and gums is imperative to keeping up with the maintenance of periodontal disease and prevention altogether.