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 gums and bone.  Periodontal disease is characterized by red, swollen, and bleeding gums.

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.

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 affects these systemic diseases and conditions.  Smoking also increases the risk of periodontal disease.

Good oral hygiene, a balanced diet, 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.
  • 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.

At least 80% of the population has some degree of gum disease and most don’t know it. Gum disease is responsible for up to 70% of adult tooth loss, and it does not give clear warning signs that an untrained eye would notice. A dentist or hygienist must do a thorough and complete examination to detect it; especially in it’s early stages.

Gum disease is similar to high blood pressure, or heart disease, by the time the person who has it notices symptoms it is in its advanced stages. Gum disease has been implicated as causative factor in heart disease, stroke, diabetes, pre-mature births, and low birth weight. It is an infection of the gums and jawbones. The bacteria, and chemical by-products of your bodies attempt to fight the bacteria, can enter the blood stream and cause serious problems in distant parts of the body. It critical to have the teeth cleaned and a thorough examination a minimum of twice a year, and it is critical that you do a thorough job at home cleaning the teeth twice daily. The good news is that gum disease can be treated and prevented. Today there are numerous aids available to help us, which include special toothbrushes, toothpastes, rinses and even prescription medications can help. Your dentist can decide the appropriate treatment method only after examination of your condition.