The word periodontal means “around the tooth.” Periodontal disease affects 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, accompanied by bone loss that supports the teeth.
According to a study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one out of every two American adults ages 30 and over have periodontal disease. According to this report, 47.2 percent of American adults have mild, moderate or severe periodontal disease called, periodontitis. This research also targets adults ages 65 and older, indicating a rate increase of 70.1 percent.
Not only is it the number one reason for tooth loss, research suggests that there may be a link between periodontitis and other systemic 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.
Periodontal disease is usually painless in its earliest stages, however if left untreated it can be problematic. Good oral hygiene, a balanced diet, and regular visits to either our dental practice or at an existing general dentist’s office, can help reduce the 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
- Pustule (discharge) around the teeth and gums – A sign that 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