What is Periodontal Disease?

HYGIENE.2April 15, 2014

Fact: 4 out of every 5 adults will develop periodontal disease in their lifetime.

Because periodontal disease is so common, it is important that you know what exactly periodontal disease is, how to prevent it, and how to treat it.

Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is an inflammatory disease that affects the structures that support the teeth. It is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.

There is a simple cause for gum disease: poor oral health.

Bacteria and other particles in our mouth cause plaque, which can be removed by brushing and flossing your teeth regularly and properly. However, plaque that is not removed hardens into tartar, which can only be removed by a dental professional. Soon, the tartar will cause gingivitis, which is the earliest stage of gum disease. Gingivitis can be avoided or reversed by going for your continuous care appointments.

If you have gingivitis, your teeth may be swollen, red, and may bleed during brushing. Left untreated, gingivitis will advance to periodontitis.

Symptoms of periodontitis include:

  • Swollen gums
  • Red gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Bad breath
  • Pain during chewing
  • Receding gums
  • Loose teeth

You are more susceptible to gum disease if you are a smoker, have decreased immunity, are on certain medications, have poor nutrition, are older, or are pregnant. If any of these describe you, you should be especially aware of any of these symptoms.

What can happen if you develop gum disease?

If left untreated, the bones, gums, and tissues supporting your teeth may be destroyed. This could lead to needing a tooth extraction. This is an expensive procedure that you want to avoid!

To treat periodontal disease, your dentist will use a special deep cleaning method. A surgical procedure may also be necessary. Additionally, your dentist may suggest you cease certain behaviors, such as smoking, to improve treatment results. You may also be prescribed an antibiotic to stop infection.

Preventing periodontal disease is simple: take care of your teeth! Brushing for two minutes twice daily, flossing regularly, and going for your regular continuous care appointments will help prevent gum disease from affecting you.

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