Periodontal or gum disease is an infection of the tissues that surround and support your natural teeth. Periodontal disease is actually a broad term that encompasses several different conditions of the gums, including gingivitis and periodontitis, each of which requires a different treatment approach. A buildup of plaque and bacteria on the teeth is the primary cause of gum disease in genetically susceptible individuals. Daily, thorough brushing and flossing will help prevent most periodontal conditions.
Proper oral hygiene is essential as we age. People over 35 lose more teeth because of gum disease than because of cavities. Three-quarters of all adults are affected at some point in their life. The best way to prevent periodontal disease as well as cavities is through a regimen of thorough daily brushing and flossing.
Most cases of periodontal disease develop because of bacterial plaque that builds up on the teeth over time. Plaque is a sticky, colorless film that stimulates an inflammatory response and causes the body to attack itself. Plaque is constantly forming on your teeth. By carefully brushing and flossing every day, you can remove plaque buildup and help prevent periodontal disease.
Periodontal diseases can be accelerated by certain factors including smoking, stress, some medications and diabetes. However, its main cause is the bacteria found in dental plaque. If not regularly eliminated by daily brushing and flossing, plaque will harden into calculus, or tartar, which cannot be removed through oral hygiene methods at home.
In the early stages of periodontal disease, the gums may swell, redden and bleed easily because of inflammation. If this irritation is allowed to progress, pockets that are susceptible to infections may form within the gums. As periodontal disease worsens, the gums may recede and the supportive bone that holds teeth in place may deteriorate. This will eventually lead to tooth loss if left untreated.
Preventing Gum Disease
Good oral hygiene and regular dental examinations are essential in the prevention and early detection of gum disease - especially since you can have it without experiencing any warning signs. Unfortunately, even with the most diligent routine of brushing and flossing, it is still possible to develop periodontal disease. If you are diagnosed with periodontal disease, professional treatment is necessary to restore your mouth to a healthy state.
Periodontal disease risk factors include:
- Clenching and grinding teeth
- Poor nutrition