Periodontal Disease


Periodontal (gum) disease is a serious infection that, left untreated, can lead to tooth loss. Periodontal disease can affect one tooth or many teeth. The main cause of periodontal disease is bacterial plaque, a sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on your teeth. Bacteria found in plaque produce toxins or poisons that irritate the gums. Gums may become inflamed, red and swollen and bleed easily. If this irritation is prolonged, the gums separate from the teeth, causing pockets (spaces) to form. Plaque also hardens into a rough, porous substance known as calculus (or tartar). This can occur both above and below the gum line. Calculus must be removed for healing to occur. If it is not, the supporting gum tissue and bone that hold teeth in place deteriorate. The progressive loss of the bone around the teeth can lead to the loosening and subsequent loss of teeth. Periodontitis is affected by bacteria that adhere to the tooth’s surface along with an overly aggressive immune response to these bacteria. Periodontal treatment is necessary when you develop pockets you cannot clean.

Periodontal disease is dangerous in that it often is painless and symptomless. About 80% of Americans will be afflicted with periodontal disease by age 45, and 4 out of 5 patients with the disease are unaware they have it. It is important to maintain proper home oral care and regular dentist visits to reduce the risk of obtaining this disease.

Periodontal bacteria cause the disease; however, factors like the following also affect the health of your gums.


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