Periodontal Disease

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What is Periodontal (Gum) Disease?  / Diagnosis  / Treatment  / Maintenance 


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 cleaned, it turns into a calcified material called calculus (tartar).  When plaque and calculus are not removed from the tooth surfaces, these materials act as an irritant and can begin to destroy the gums and bone.  Periodontal disease is characterized by red, swollen, and bleeding gums.

Four out of five people have some stage of periodontal disease and do not even know it.  Most people are not aware of it because the disease is usually painless in the early stages.

Periodontal disease is the number one reason for tooth loss in adults.  Research suggests that there may be a link between periodontal disease and other diseases; stroke, bacterial pneumonia, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  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 when you brush or use dental floss.
  • Loose teeth – 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 tissue 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.