What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal diseases are infections of the gums, which gradually destroy the support of your natural teeth. Dental plaque is the primary cause of gum disease in genetically susceptible individuals. Bacteria found in plaque produce toxins or poisons, which 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 (spaces) to form. Plaque can also harden into a rough, porous substance known as calculus (or tarter). This can occur both above and below the gum line. As periodontal diseases progress, the supporting gum tissue and bone that holds the teeth in place deteriorate. If left untreated, this leads to tooth loss.
Periodontal treatment is necessary when various conditions affect the health of your gums and the regions of your jawbone that hold your teeth in place. Retaining your teeth is directly dependent on proper periodontal care and maintenance. Healthy gums enhance the appearance of your teeth, like a frame around a beautiful painting. When your gums become unhealthy, they can either recede or become swollen and red. These changes not only affect your ability to chew and speak, they also spoil your smile.
Periodontal disease is dangerous in that it is often painless and symptomless. 80% of Americans will be afflicted with periodontal disease by the age of 45. 4 out of 5 patients with the disease are unaware they have it. It is important to maintain proper home oral care and regular dentist visits to reduce the risk of obtaining the disease.