What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection affecting the gums, which gradually destroys the support of your natural teeth. Dental plaque is the primary cause of gum disease in genetically susceptible individuals. Daily brushing, flossing and use of an oral irrigator (Waterpik) will help prevent most periodontal conditions.
Because patients with controlled periodontal disease are very susceptible to relapse, we typically see them every 3-4 months for routine periodontal maintenance treatment with our hygienist.
Adults over 35 lose more teeth to gum disease (periodontal disease), than from cavities. Three out of four adults are affected at some time in their life. The best way to prevent periodontal disease is by good tooth brushing, flossing and oral irrigation techniques, performed daily. Additionally, routine examination by your hygienist and dentist help catch periodontal disease in an early, less destructive stage.
Periodontal disease and decay are both caused by bacterial plaque. One type of bacteria can result in tooth decay and another type of bacteria can lead to periodontal disease. Plaque is a colorless biofilm, which sticks to your teeth at the gum line. Plaque constantly forms on your teeth.
Bacteria found in plaque produces toxins or poisons that irritate the gums, which may cause them to turn red, swell and bleed easily. If this irritation is prolonged, the gums separate from the teeth, causing pockets (spaces) to form. As periodontal diseases progress, the supporting gum tissue and bone that holds teeth in place deteriorate. If left untreated, this leads to tooth loss.
Other important factors affecting the health of your gums include:
- Clenching and grinding teeth
- Poor nutrition
Preventing Periodontal Disease
The best way to prevent gum disease is effective daily brushing, flossing, regular use of an oral irrigator as well as regular professional examinations and cleanings. Unfortunately, even with the most diligent home dental care, people still can develop some form of periodontal disease. Once this disease process starts, early professional intervention is necessary to prevent its progress.