The word periodontal means “around the tooth”. Periodontal disease attacks the gums and the bone that support the teeth. We do not yet know the precise mechanism, but we do know that bacteria invade and the jawbone resorbs. 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 can 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. It is an inflammatory condition, just like high blood pressure or diabetes. Neither of those diseases hurt until the problem has become more severe, such as when you have chest pain or nerve damage.
Not only is gum disease the number one reason for tooth loss, researchers have found a link between periodontal disease and other diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and increased problems during pregnancy.
You can reduce your risk of developing periodontal disease by practicing good oral hygiene, eating a balanced diet, seeing your dentist regularly. The unfortunate paradox is that aging makes us more susceptible to gum disease (along with many other conditions) but also decreases our ability to maintain good oral hygiene.
Signs and symptoms of periodontal disease:
Bleeding gums – Gums should never bleed, even when you brush vigorously or use dental floss.
Loose teeth – Bone loss or weakened periodontal fibers (fibers that connect the tooth to the jawbone) can loosen teeth.
New spacing between teeth
Persistent bad breath
Pus around the teeth and gums
Red and puffy gums – Gums should never be red or swollen.
Tenderness or Discomfort – Plaque, calculus, and bacteria irritate the gums and teeth.