The meaning of the word periodontal is “around the tooth”. Periodontal disease occurs when the gums and jaw bone deteriorate, thereby damaging the natural support for the teeth.
The most common cause of periodontal disease is plaque — a sticky film composed of food debris, saliva, and bacteria. If plaque is allowed to remain on the teeth, it quickly transforms into calculus (also called “tartar”). When calculus and plaque remain on the teeth, they can cause destruction of the gums and underlying bone. Periodontal disease is typically characterized by gums that are red, swollen, and bleeding.
Eighty percent of people — that’s 4 out of 5 — are to some degree afflicted with periodontal disease, and many of them don’t even know it! That’s because in the early stages, the disease is usually painless
Research shows that periodontal disease is the leading reason for tooth loss. In fact, there is convincing evidence that periodontal disease may even contribute to other health issues, including diabetes, bacterial pneumonia, stroke, cardiovascular disease, and higher risk during pregnancy.
Researchers are currently investigating whether inflammation and bacteria that are associated with periodontal disease may contribute to these systemic conditions and diseases. Another factor that has been shown to contribute to the risk of periodontal disease is smoking.
By practicing good oral hygiene, a healthy diet, and regular dental visits, you can help to reduce the risk that you will develop periodontal disease.
If you have any of these symptoms, you should see your dentist immediately! To delay can result in permanent loss of precious teeth and other potentially dangerous side-effects.