The word periodontal means “around the tooth”. Periodontal disease (also known gum disease) attacks the gums and the bone that support the teeth. It is a progressive condition and the leading cause of tooth loss amongst adults in the developed world. 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 irritate and inflame the gingiva (gum disease) and underlying bone. Periodontal disease is characterized by red, swollen, and bleeding gums.
Four out of five people have periodontal disease and don’t know it! Most people are not aware of it because the disease is usually painless in the early stages.
Good oral hygiene, a balanced diet, and regular dental visits can help reduce your risk of developing periodontal disease.
Signs and symptoms of periodontal disease:
- Bleeding gums – Gums should never bleed, even when you brush vigorously or use dental floss.
- Loose teeth – Also caused by bone loss or weakened periodontal fibers (fibers that support the tooth to the bone). As the bone tissue gets destroyed, teeth that were once firmly attached to the jawbone become loose or may shift in position.
- New spacing between teeth – Caused by bone loss.
- Persistent bad breath – Caused by old food particles that sit between the teeth and underneath the gumline. The deeper gum pockets are able to house more debris and bacteria, causing a foul odor.
- Puss around the teeth and gums – Pus oozing from between the teeth is a definitive sign that a periodontal infection is in progress. The pus is a result of the body trying to fight the bacterial infection.
- Receding gums – Loss of gum around a tooth
- Red and puffy gums – Gums should never be red or swollen.
- Tenderness or Discomfort – Plaque, calculus, and bacteria irritate the gums and teeth.