What Is Periodontal Disease?

What is gum disease?Periodontal (gum) disease is a chronic bacterial infection that affects the gums and bone supporting the teeth. 70-90% of adults have some form of periodontal disease. People are rarely aware they have periodontal disease because there is no pain or noticeable symptoms.

Periodontal disease begins when the bacteria in plaque (the sticky, colourless film that constantly forms on your teeth) causes the gums to become inflamed. In the mildest form of the disease, gingivitis, the gums redden, swell and bleed easily. Gingivitis is often caused by inadequate oral hygiene and is reversible with professional treatment and good oral home care.

Untreated gingivitis can advance to periodontitis. Toxins produced by the bacteria in plaque irritate the gums. These toxins stimulate a chronic inflammatory response in which the body in essence turns on itself, and the tissues and bone that support the teeth are broken down and destroyed. Gums separate from the teeth, forming pockets (spaces between the teeth and gums) that become infected. As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed. Eventually, teeth can become loose and may have to be removed. In fact periodontal disease, not cavities, is the leading cause of adult tooth loss.

It is important to note that recent research has demonstrated serious cardiovascular and other health risks associated with periodontal disease.

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