What is gum disease?Gum disease (periodontal disease) is an infection of the tissues that surround and support your teeth. Because gum disease is usually painless, you may not know you have it. Also referred to as periodontal disease, gum disease is caused by the bacteria that are on and around your teeth, especially in deep periodontal pockets.
There are many factors that increase the risk of developing periodontitis, including smoking, pregnancy and diabetes. It is important to visit our office if you suspect you have gum disease, because if left untreated, permanent damage can happen, and even tooth loss can occur.
The Early Stage of Gum Disease Is Called GingivitisIf you have gingivitis, your gums may become red, swollen and bleed easily. At this stage, the disease is still reversible and can usually be eliminated by a professional cleaning at your dental office, followed by daily brushing and flossing.
Advanced Gum Disease Is Called PeriodontitisChronic periodontitis can lead to the loss of tissue and bone that support the teeth. The main goal for treatment of periodontal disease is to control infection caused by bacteria and remove calculus, which harbors bacteria and can irritate the gums. Periodontal disease cannot be cured. However, we have measures to help slow or stop the progression and work with you at regular continuing care visits (usually every 3–4 months). This is critical in preventing the infection from continuing to cause damage.
Aggressive periodontitis is a highly destructive form of periodontal disease that occurs in patients who are otherwise healthy. Common features include rapid loss of tissue and bone, and may occur in localized areas or in the entire mouth.
Research between systemic diseases and periodontal diseases is ongoing. While a link is not conclusive, some studies indicate that severe gum disease may be associated with several other health conditions such as diabetes or stroke.
Regular dental checkups and periodontal examinations are very important. The treatment methods that our dentists diagnose will depend upon the type of disease and how far the condition has progressed. Good dental care at home is essential for helping to keep periodontal disease from becoming more serious.
Read more about Gum Disease at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.