Periodontal treatment is necessary when various conditions affect the health of your gums and the bone surrounding your teeth. Retaining your teeth is directly dependent on proper periodontal care and maintenance. When the gums become unhealthy, they either recede or become swollen and red. In later stages, the supporting bone is destroyed and your teeth will shift, loosen, or fall out. These changes not only affect your ability to eat and speak, but can ruin your beautiful smile.
Periodontal disease is an ongoing infection of the gums that gradually destroys the support of your natural teeth. Dental plaque is the primary cause of gum disease. The bacteria found in plaque produce toxins that irritate the gums. They may cause them to turn red, swell, and bleed easily. If this irritation is prolonged, the gums separate from the teeth causing pockets or spaces to form. Plaque can also harden into a rough, hard substance known as tartar, occurring both above and below the gum line. As periodontal diseases progress, the supporting gum tissue and bone that holds teeth in place deteriorate. If left untreated, periodontal disease will lead to tooth loss. With periodontal disease, bleeding, redness, and swelling do not always have to be present. Pain, as would be expected, is not usually associated with periodontal disease. This disease damages the teeth, bone, and gum of more than 80 percent of Americans by age 45.
Gum Disease Symptoms
Gum disease is often silent, meaning that symptoms may not appear until an advanced stage of the disease. Warning signs to be aware of include:
- Red, swollen or tender gums or other pain in your mouth
- Bleeding while brushing, flossing, or eating hard food
- Gums that are receding or pulling away from the teeth, causing the teeth to look longer than before
- Loose or separating teeth
- Sores in your mouth
- Persistent bad breath
- A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- A change in the fit of partial dentures
What Causes Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal Disease and cavities are both caused by bacterial plaque. Plaque is a sticky colorless film, composed primarily of various types of bacteria, which adhere to your teeth at and below the gum line. Plaque constantly forms on your teeth, and can begin to form just minutes after cleaning. If not consistently removed by daily brushing and flossing, plaque hardens into a rough, hard substance known as tartar which cannot be removed without a professional cleaning.
The bacterial plaque produces toxins that irritate the gums, which may cause them to turn red, swell and bleed easily. If this irritation is prolonged, the gums separate from the teeth, causing periodontal pockets or spaces, to form along the tooth. As periodontal diseases progress, the supporting gum tissue and bone that holds teeth in place deteriorate, and if left untreated lead to tooth loss.
Preventing Periodontal Disease
Adults over the age of 35 lose more teeth to gum diseases than from cavities. Three out of four adults are affected at some time in their life. The best way to prevent cavities and periodontal diseases is by performing a thorough daily tooth brushing and flossing, with regular professional examinations and cleanings. Unfortunately, even with the most diligent home dental care, people can still develop some form of periodontal disease. Once this disease starts, professional intervention is necessary to prevent its progress.