Periodontal disease is a disease of the supporting structures of the teeth including gums, bone, and ligaments. The supporting structures of the teeth (periodontia) are responsible for maintaining their stability. Plaque builds up on teeth throughout the day from eating and drinking. If this plaque is not cleansed it will continue to build up and calcify beginning after 12 hours. After it calcifies it is then referred to as calculus (tartar) which can only be removed by a professional cleaning. If this calculus continues to build up around teeth and under gums it will cause irritation characterized by red, bleeding, and swollen gums.
Four out of five people who have periodontal disease do not know it. Most people are unaware of it until it is in more advanced stages. It is the number one reason for tooth loss, and research suggests that there are links between overall health and periodontal health. The bacteria from the plaque and calculus may enter bloodstream and may exacerbate or cause increased risk for cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, diabetes, stroke, osteoporosis, and pre-term birth in pregnant women. Smoking greatly increases the risk for periodontal disease.
The best prevention for periodontal disease is a balanced diet, good home care, and regular dental visits. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms it is recommended to seek dental care for possible periodontal disease:
Bleeding Gums – gums should never bleed, even when you brush vigorously or use dental floss
Loose Teeth – this is caused by bone loss or weakened ligament due to periodontal disease
New Spacing Between Teeth/shifting teeth – this can be cause by bone loss as well
Pus Around the Teeth and Gums – this can be accompanied with a bad taste. It shows signs of an infection around the tooth
Receding Gums – the architecture of the gums follows the bone present. As you get bone loss from periodontal disease the gums follow and recede as well.
Red and Puffy Gums – gums should be a salmon color in most people and should never be swollen
Tenderness and Discomfort – plaque, calculus, and bacteria all irritate the gums and teeth