The word periodontal means “around the tooth.” Periodontal disease attacks the gums and the bone that support the teeth. Plaque is a sticky film of food debris, bacteria, and saliva. If plaque is not removed, it turns into calculus (tartar). When plaque and calculus are not removed, they begin to destroy the gums and bone. Periodontal disease occurs when the toxins found in plaque begin to irritate or inflame the gingiva (gum tissue). The resulting bacterial infection often known as gingivitis can eventually lead to the destruction of the gum tissue and underlying bone. Periodontal disease is characterized by red, swollen, and bleeding gums.
Four out of five people have periodontal disease and do not know it! Most people are not aware of it because the disease is usually painless in the early stages. If periodontal disease is not treated, it can lead to loose teeth or tooth loss.
Not only is periodontal disease the number one reason for tooth loss in adults, but research also suggests that there may be a link between periodontal disease and other diseases such as stroke, bacterial pneumonia, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and increased risk during pregnancy. Researchers are determining if inflammation and bacteria associated with periodontal disease affect these systemic diseases and conditions. Smoking also increases the risk of periodontal disease.
Good oral hygiene, a balanced diet, and regular dental visits can help reduce your risk of developing periodontal disease.