Periodontal disease is a very dangerous disease because it is often painless and symptomless. It affects the health of your gums and jawbone where your teeth are held in place. When your gums become unhealthy, they either recede or become swollen and red. In later stages of periodontal disease, the supporting bone is destroyed, causing teeth to shift, loosen, or even fall out, changing your ability to chew and even speak.
Periodontal diseases are continuous infections of the gum tissue that slowly destroys the support structures of your natural teeth. While there are many other diseases out there that affect tooth-supporting structures, plaque-induced inflammatory lesions make up the majority of periodontal issues. They are divided into two categories: periodontitis and gingivitis. While gingivitis, which is the less serious of the two diseases, might never progress into periodontitis, it always precedes the more serious disease.
Once gingivitis progresses into periodontitis, the supporting gum tissue and bone holding teeth in place begins to deteriorate. The loss of this bone can quickly lead to loss of teeth.
The primary cause of gingivitis is dental plaque. This is a sticky, colorless substance composed of food particles and different kinds of bacteria. The film adheres to your teeth at and underneath the gum line. Plaque is constantly forming on your teeth, even shortly after a dental cleaning! This is why it is so important to maintain good oral health.
Bacteria found in plaque produce toxins, or poisons, that irritate the gum tissue, causing it to become inflamed, red, swollen, and to bleed easily. If this is prolongued, the gums will separate from the teeth, causing pockets (or spaces) to form. When daily oral care such as brushing and flossing is neglected, plaque hardens into a rough, porous substance known as calculus or tartar.
80% of Americans will be afflicted with periodontal disease before the age of 40, and 4 out of 5 patients don't even realize they have it. This is why it is so important to maintain good oral home care as well as regular visits to the dentist or periodontist.