Periodontal Disease

 
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The word periodontal means “around the tooth”.  Periodontal disease attacks the gums and the bone that support the teeth.  Plaque is a sticky film of food debris, bacteria, and saliva.  If plaque is not removed, it turns into calculus (tartar).  When plaque and calculus are not removed, they begin to destroy the tiny fibers that connect the gums and bone to the teeth.  Periodontal disease is characterized by red, swollen, and bleeding gums. Sometimes, periodontal disease can be severe enough to cause loosening of the teeth.

Four out of five people have periodontal disease and don’t know it!  Most people are not aware of it because the disease is usually painless in the early stages and may take many years to give obvious symptoms.

Not only is it the number one reason for tooth loss, research suggests that there may be a link between periodontal disease and other diseases such as stroke, bacterial pneumonia, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and increased risk during pregnancy.  Researchers are determining if inflammation and bacteria associated with periodontal disease affect these systemic diseases and conditions.  Smoking also greatly increases the risk of periodontal disease.

Good oral hygiene, a balanced diet, healthy life choices, and regular dental visits can help reduce your risk of developing periodontal disease.

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 and gum recession.
  • Persistent bad breath – Caused by bacteria in the mouth.
  • Pus around the teeth and gums – This is a sign that there is an infection present.
  • Receding gums – Loss of gum around a tooth can make your teeth appear "longer", exposing root surfaces that may become sensitive to hot, cold, sweet, or sour foods and drinks.
  • Red and puffy gums – Gums should never be red or swollen.
  • Tenderness or Discomfort – Plaque, calculus, and bacteria irritate the gums and teeth, often causing pain or "itching" in the gums.

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