Periodontal disease is actually an infectious disease. Periodontal disease is a gum disease. It’s an infection of the oral cavity of the bones and the gum tissue around the teeth, so it’s all the supporting structures we’re talking about. So when your teeth bleeds or your gums bleed, that’s a sign that there’s infection going on. It’s not to be taken lightly either because it is infectious. And number two, it can really be a big detriment to your overall health not just to your teeth.
One of the ways that gum disease works is it’s primarily caused by bacteria in the mouth, and the bacteria gets in there and we all know about tooth decay. But same kind of bacteria or some of the other ones that live in your body, basically, they will also eat away at the gums and the bone, the foundation around the teeth. That’s what causes the gums to bleed.
People who get bad breath a lot of times the bad breath isn’t something from what they ate. It’s actually from the gums that are constantly bleeding underneath their tissue. I have a lot of patients who come and say, “Yeah, my gums have always bled. It doesn’t bother me.” That’s the insidious part about the whole thing, is gum disease doesn’t hurt. Now, sometimes it does but generally when it does, it’s in its very aggressive late form and at that point, generally the teeth we can’t save them.
So an analogy, I sometimes draw to the patient that tells me, “Oh, my gums bleed but they don’t hurt.” So I say, “What if you were brushing your hair in the morning, and all of a sudden there was a blood in your hair brush and your scalp was bleeding?” I go, “I think the average adult that probably at the emergency room in about 5-minutes, wondering what happened.” I said, “But if you’re brushing your teeth and they’re bleeding, you’ll think this is an internal bleeding, this is external.” Internal bleeding affects other organs in your body. Your cardiovascular system, things like that.
So with somebody who has bleeding gums, or they think they have gum disease, or been diagnosed with periodontal disease, one of the first thing we tell them is, “This is affecting your overall health, not just the oral cavity in your teeth. Because there are studies now that show there’s possible links with Alzheimer’s, diabetes and all these other things that can kill you. So we look at them out and try to get it healthy.
Now the other reason we as dentists have always looked at it is because if that infection continues, one of the problems is you’re going to lose the bone and your teeth are going to get loosened. They’re going to fall out. And that’s the number one reason people loose their teeth. It’s generally rare that a person loses their tooth because of a big cavity. Because with technology today, we can almost fix any kind of tooth that’s got the foundation. But if it doesn’t have a foundation, all bets are off. It’s just like remodeling a house. You’re going to remodel your house, remodel it, remodel, but once the foundation’s gone, all bets are off.
If you suspect you have gum disease or you suspect, “Oh, I think I have a problem with my…,” first thing that you need is you need a diagnosis, and you need to see a dentist and have a diagnosis of what’s going on because you want to know what stage the disease is in. Because there are different kinds of treatments that you can do. Some of it surgery and that’s scary. Some of it’s non-surgical not as scary, but it really depends on the diagnosis for the patient.