Periodontal disease is a disease affecting the tissues that support the teeth, including gum tissue and bone. The most common periodontal diseases are gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums. Periodontitis is a more serious disease that affects the underlying bone structure of the teeth.
Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults over 40. However, early diagnosis and treatment can usually prevent tooth loss.
The most common cause of periodontal disease is long-term neglect of oral health. Other causes of periodontal disease may include:
Also, mental or physical stress can make the disease more severe and harder to fight.
The first stage of periodontal disease is gingivitis, which is most often caused by bacteria found in plaque. Plaque is a sticky material made of mucus and saliva, food particles, and bacteria that live in the mouth. Chemicals produced by the bacteria in plaque inflame the gum tissue, causing it to swell and become tender.
Over time, if untreated, the inflammation becomes worse as bacteria begin to attack the underlying, supporting tissues of the teeth, which include bone and the ligaments that attach the bone, teeth, and gums. In periodontitis, the supporting tissues are slowly destroyed and the teeth can become loose and eventually may need to be pulled.
Symptoms of periodontal disease include:
Your dentist will examine your gums and teeth. You may have X-rays taken of your mouth. Your dentist may use a probe that can make measurements to see if there is any bone loss around the teeth.
The most common treatment of periodontal disease is a thorough dental cleaning, which includes:
Once this is done, your gums can begin to heal. In some cases, you may also need antibiotics or further surgical treatment to reshape the gum tissue for easier self-cleaning. For severe periodontal disease, your dentist may refer you to a specialist.
Other treatments may include:
Managing periodontal disease includes a commitment to excellent, daily oral hygiene to remove plaque from your teeth. In addition, it is important to receive regular and more frequent professional dental care.
If periodontal disease is not treated, it may cause permanent damage to the supporting structures of your teeth. However, proper oral hygiene and good professional care can stop the disease and prevent more damage.
To soothe the tissue and reduce swelling, rinse your mouth with warm salt water. Take a nonprescription pain medicine to reduce the tenderness until the tissue begins to heal.
The most important thing to do is to practice good oral hygiene, which includes the following:
To prevent periodontal disease, practice good dental hygiene. This includes thorough home care and getting dental care and professional cleanings as often as your dentist recommends.