What is Gum and Periodontal Disease?
When gum disease occurs, usually as a result of plaque and bacteria accumulation, the gums begin to pull away from the teeth, forming small spaces called “pockets” between the teeth and gum. As the plaque grows and spreads bacteria below the gum line and throughout the mouth, the bones and tissue of your jawbone that holds teeth in place starts to break down and can eventually be destroyed. When this occurs, teeth become loose and need to be extracted.
Over half of Americans have had bleeding gums at some point in their life. Swollen and/or bleeding gums are the earliest sign that gums have been infected with bacteria, and if left untreated, there is a high risk that these bacteria can spread and lead to other health problems.
What are the signs and symptoms of periodontal disease?
- Bad breath
- Red, swollen or tender gums
- Sores or other pain in your mouth
- Sensitive, loose or separating teeth
- Gums that bleed while brushing or flossing
- Receding gums or gums that are pulling away from the teeth, causing the teeth to appear longer
Can periodontal disease cause additional health problems?
Recent research has found that a connection exists between periodontal disease and a number of other serious health problems, which include:
- Heart disease
- Premature birth and low birth weight
- Respiratory disease
How can periodontal disease be prevented and/or treated?
Periodontal disease can be prevented by maintaining excellent oral hygiene at home and by coming to the office for your regular exams and cleanings. For most people, a dental cleaning is needed every six months, however, more regular cleanings may be necessary for those suffering from periodontitis. Only your dentist or hygienist can give professional cleanings that will remove dental plaque in areas that are hard to reach with a toothbrush or floss.
Dr. Daniel A. Narain, Periodontist