What is Periodontal Disease?
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Daily brushing and flossing can help prevent the onset of periodontal disease, but regular oral exams and cleanings are necessary to ensure that all plaque and tartar are removed from the teeth and that the signs of gum disease are caught before the damage is irreversible. Many patients do not experience any symptoms of periodontal disease until it’s too late, which is why it’s important to schedule an evaluation today to learn more!.
If you have been diagnosed with periodontal disease, you are not alone. Research shows more than half of Americans suffer from periodontal disease. Finding the disease is the first step in preventing tooth loss!
Periodontal disease is an inflammatory process that affects the supporting structure around teeth. The disease progresses as the sulcus (pocket or space) between the tooth and gums gets filled with bacteria, plaque, and tartar, causing irritation to the surrounding tissues. When these irritants remain in the pocket space, they can cause damage to the gums and eventually, the bone that supports the teeth.
This disease is considered the “silent disease” because patients do not experience pain in relation to the disease progression. There are two basic categories of periodontal disease: gingivitis and periodontitis.
Gingivitis is an early stage of the disease and is a bacterial infection that is confined to the gingiva. It is often caused by inadequate oral hygiene home care. In this stage of disease, the gums are often red, swollen, bleed easily and teeth may become sensitive. The tissue damage that occurs in gingivitis is reversible and with proper care, the gums can be restored back to health.
Untreated gingivitis can advance to periodontitis, which is when bacteria accumulates can spread and grow below the gums. The body’s natural inflammatory response can cause damage to the bone. With time and without treatment, this destructive process can cause the teeth to loosen and eventually fall out.
Signs and symptoms of periodontal disease:
- Bleeding gums – Gums should never bleed, even when you brush vigorously or use dental floss.
- Loose teeth – Also caused by bone loss or weakened periodontal fibers (fibers that support the tooth to the bone).
- New spacing between teeth – Caused by bone loss.
- Persistent bad breath – Caused by bacteria in the mouth.
- Pus around the teeth and gums – Sign that there is an infection present.
- Receding gums – Loss of gum around a tooth.
- Red and puffy gums – Gums should never be red or swollen.
- Tenderness or Discomfort – Plaque, calculus, and bacteria irritate the gums and teeth.
Periodontal disease can be influenced by a variety of factors that can exasperate the progression of the disease. These risk factors may include:
- Inherited or genetic susceptibility
- Lack of adequate home care
- Health history
“According to recent findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), half of Americans aged 30 or older have periodontitis, the more advanced form of periodontal disease. This equals approximately 64.7 million Americans.”