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Periodontal Disease

The word periodontal means “around the tooth”.  Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection that 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 at least once every 24 hours, it turns into calculus (tartar).  When plaque and calculus are not removed, bacteria in the plaque begin to destroy the gums and bone.  Periodontal disease is characterized by red, swollen, and bleeding gums.

Four out of five people have some degree of periodontal disease and don’t know it!  Most people are not aware of it because the disease is usually painless in the early stages.

Not only is periodontal disease 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, cardiovascular disease, and increased risk of pre-term delivery for pregnant women.  Periodontal disease is also closely linked to diabetes.  People with untreated periodontal disease require larger doses of insulin, or glucose-controlling medications, making their diabetes more difficult to control.  Conversely, people with poorly controlled diabetes will have a more difficult time controlling their periodontal disease.  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.

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 ligament (fibers that support the tooth to the bone).
  • New spacing between teeth – Caused by bone loss, active bacterial infection, and a poor bite.
  • Persistent bad breath – Caused by bacteria in the mouth.
  • Pus around the teeth and gums – An late sign that there is an infection present.
  • Receding gums – Loss of gum tissue and sometimes bone around a tooth.
  • Red and puffy gums – Signs of inflammation caused by bacterial infection of the gums.
  • Tenderness or Discomfort – Plaque, calculus, and bacteria irritate the gums and teeth.

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