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Periodontal Disease


Side by side drawings comparing a healthy tooth with another tooth suffering from periodontal disease.

What is Periodontal Disease?


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.

Mouth Body Connection


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.

Causes of Periodontal Disease


Periodontal (gum) disease, which is also known as periodontal disease and periodontitis, is a progressive disease which if left untreated may result in tooth loss. Gum disease begins with the inflammation and irritation of the gingival tissues which surround and support the teeth. The cause of this inflammation is the toxins found in plaque which cause an ongoing bacterial infection.

Types of Periodontal Disease


There are many different varieties of periodontal disease, and many ways in which these variations manifest themselves. All require immediate treatment by a periodontist to halt the progression and save the gum tissue and bone.

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.

Diagnosis, Treatment and Maintenance


A periodontal probe (small dental instrument) is gently used to measure the sulcus (pocket or space) between the tooth and the gums. The depth of a healthy sulcus measures three millimeters or less and does not bleed. The periodontal probe helps indicate if pockets are deeper than three millimeters. As periodontal disease progresses, the pockets usually get deeper.

Your dentist or hygienist will use pocket depths, amount of bleeding, inflammation, tooth mobility, etc., to make a diagnosis.

Periodontal Care


Your periodontal (gum) tissues are just as important as your teeth. Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in the United States. Periodontal disease is the result of an infection in the gum tissues, connective ligaments, and eventually the alveolar bone.

The disease is characterized by gums that are swollen, red, and tend to bleed during brushing and flossing. Luckily, periodontal disease is easy to prevent and treat if it is caught early enough. If we notice signs of advanced periodontal disease, we may recommend a scaling and root planing procedure. The goal is to return your gums to a pink, healthy state.
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