Periodontal disease (also known as gum disease) is an infection of the gum and bone that support the teeth. If periodontal disease is not treated, it can get worse and lead to tooth loss. This disease is common and affects people of all ages.
You can have periodontal disease without pain or other clear symptoms. That’s why it is important to visit the dentist regularly. Regular dental visits allow your dentist to spot and treat problems in their early stages.
WHAT CAUSES PERIODONTAL DISEASE?
Periodontal disease is caused by plaque, a sticky film that is always forming on your teeth. Plaque contains bacteria that produce harmful toxins. If teeth are not cleaned well, the toxins can irritate and inflame the gums.
Healthy gum tissue fits like a cuff around each tooth. But inflamed gum tissue can pull away from the teeth and form spaces called pockets. These pockets collect more plaque bacteria. If the infected pockets are not treated, the disease gets worse. The bone and other tissues that support teeth are damaged. Over time, teeth may fall out or need to be removed.�
You can help prevent tooth loss by cleaning your teeth and gums each day. Plaque is removed by brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing daily. If plaque stays on your teeth, it hardens into a rough substance called calculus, or tartar. Tartar can only be removed when teeth are cleaned at the dental office.
HOW CAN I TELL IF I HAVE PERIODONTAL DISEASE?
- Gums that bleed when you brush or floss
- Red, swollen or tender gums
- Gums that have pulled away from your teeth
- Bad breath that doesn’t go away
- Pus between your teeth and gums
- Loose or separating teeth
- A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- A change in the fit of partial dentures
HOW IS PERIODONTAL DISEASE DIAGNOSED?
If you schedule regular dental exams, your dentist can catch periodontal disease before the gums are too damaged to retain your teeth.