WHAT IS GUM DISEASE
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection that occurs in the gums, deep tissues, and bones that support your teeth. (The word “periodontal” means “around the tooth.”) Unless the disease is treated, it can ultimately lead to tooth loss. 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.
How Gum Disease Starts
Your mouth naturally produces a sticky substance called plaque. Without adequate brushing and flossing, this plaque builds up on your teeth. The bacteria in plaque produce poisons, or toxins, which irritate the gums, causing infection. As the infection increases in severity, it breaks down the bones and tissues that hold your teeth in place.
Common symptoms include:
Oral bleeding that typically occurs when a patient is flushing or brushing their teeth
Gums that appear overly swollen or red
Bad breath that lingers even after diligent oral hygiene and/or mouthwash
Strangely loose teeth
A sudden change in the way your bite feels
A receding gum line (your teeth appear longer and longer over time)
However, there are many cases in which periodontal disease may not exhibit noticeable signs until it’s progressed to a more dangerous stage. That’s why attending regular check-ups is so crucial for patients of all ages.
Treating periodontal disease can vary depending on how far the condition has progressed. The first step is a deep cleaning and scaling to remove plaque and tartar deposits from the teeth. In some cases when the pockets have become too deep or do not properly heal, periodontal surgery may be necessary to reduce the pocket depth.