The word periodontal means “around the tooth”. Periodontal disease is a condition in which forms of bacteria known as plaque and tartar (calculus) have infected the teeth and their supporting gum and bone structures. Plaque is a slick film of food debris, bacteria, and saliva that forms on the teeth all the time as you eat and drink through the day. Plaque becomes tartar when left in place for more than twenty-four hours. The two together actively destroy tooth, gum, and bone tissue. Periodontal disease, characterized by red, swollen, and bleeding gums, is so common that four out of five people have it but remain unaware of it because the disease is usually painless in the early stages.
In fact, the disease is so common that it is the number one cause of tooth loss. Additionally, current research suggests that the inflammation and bacteria associated with periodontal disease may affect other systemic diseases like stroke, bacterial pneumonia, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and increased risk during pregnancy. Fortunately, good oral hygiene, a balanced diet, and regular dental visits are easy ways to significantly reduce the risk of developing periodontal disease.
The following is a list of symptoms that suggest the presence of periodontal disease:
- Bleeding Gums: Gums should never bleed, even with vigorous brushing or flossing.
- Loose Teeth: Often caused by weakened periodontal fibers, the muscle tissue that binds teeth to the bone.
- New Spaces Between Teeth: This may be suggestive of bone loss.
- Persistent Bad Breath: Often caused by too much bacteria in the mouth.
- Tender or Receding Gums: Bacteria can cause an uncomfortable inflammation of the gums, eventually creating a loss of gum tissue around the tooth.
- Pus on Teeth and Gums: Pus is a sign of serious bacterial infection.