What is gum disease?

Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is a serious inflammatory disorder that, left untreated, can lead to tooth loss.
Periodontal disease often causes no symptoms, especially in its earlier stages. This disease can still damage the gums, bone, and other tissue that surround the teeth, leading to loss. There is also evidence that the bacteria that cause periodontal disease are linked to more general health problems. These include heart disease, pregnancy complications, cancer, pneumonia, and other serious conditions.
 

Types of Periodontal Disease

Gingivitis:


Gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontal disease. It causes the gums to become red, swollen, and bleed easily. Gingivitis is often caused by inadequate oral hygiene. Gingivitis is reversible with professional treatment and good oral home care.




Periodontitis:


Untreated gingivitis can advance to periodontitis. With time, plaque can spread and grow below the gum line. The toxins stimulate a chronic inflammatory response in which the body in essence turns on itself, and the tissues and bone that support the teeth are broken down and destroyed. Gums separate from the teeth, forming pockets (spaces between the teeth and gums) that become infected. As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed.




Advanced periodontitis


As periodontitis advances, pockets deepen even more and can fill with pus. Around the roots of the teeth, the gums may start to swell. Bone loss continues. The teeth may feel sensitive to heat or cold and may hurt when brushed. Teeth loosen more. In some cases, teeth may need to be removed to keep the disease from spreading.





Treatment for Periodontal Disease

Special dental cleanings, medications, and surgery are among the treatments for this disease. If periodontal disease is caught early, some or all of the damage may be reversed. In many cases, it can save teeth you’re in danger of losing. You will need to commit to taking very good care of your teeth at home, and your periodontist will also recommend a maintenance (upkeep) plan for your long-term care and stability, usually on a quarterly basis.

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