Periodontal disease refers to a range of inflammatory conditions that affects the surrounding tissues of the teeth (including the gums and bone). Before advancing to periodontitis, its early stages is referred to as gingivitis. Periodontal disease is caused by plaque build up. The goal of periodontal therapy is to remove plaque, eliminate bacteria and reduce inflammation.
Gum disease occurs when the tissue that surrounds and supports the teeth becomes infected.
Types of gum disease
Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease. It occurs when the gums become red and swollen. The gums may also bleed easily when they are brushed and it can cause bad breath. Gingivitis can be reversed by good mouth care.
If gingivitis is not treated, it may cause a more severe form of gum disease called periodontitis. Periodontitis may cause the area of the gum closest to the tooth to become weak. Spaces may form between the tooth and the gum, and these may trap germs, leading to even more swelling. Over time, the bone supporting the teeth can be lost, causing the teeth to become loose and possibly fall out.
What are the signs and symptoms of periodontal disease?
To protect your oral health, learn to recognize the signs of infection. Periodontal disease symptoms include:
- Red, inflamed gums.
- Bleeding gums.
- Chronic bad breath.
- Receding gums.
- Loose teeth.
- Pus around teeth and gums.
- Changes in bite.
What is the difference between Gingivitis and Periodontitis?
Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums surrounding your teeth. When left untreated it can progress to a more advanced stage such as periodontal disease or periodontitis.
Even though gums are irritated, gum recession does not occur until later stages of periodontal disease.
Gingivitis is a warning sign from the teething and gums that you need to improve your oral; hygiene and see a dental professional for assessment. There is also no irreversible bone loss during gingivitis.
Periodontitis occurs when gingivitis is left untreated. When periodontitis develops, the inner layer of the gum and bone pulls away from the teeth and periodontal pockets form with harmful bacteria. This condition if left untreated can lead to teeth and bone loss.
It is very important to see a dentist for periodontal treatment at this stage in the disease and a referral may even be necessary to see a Gum Specialist (Periodontist).
What causes periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is caused by bacterial plaque growth around the teeth and surrounding tissues. The most common causes are poor oral hygiene, underlying medical conditions, smoking, hormonal changes, certain medications and certain viral and fungal infections.
How do you treat periodontal Disease?
There are multiple ways in which periodontal disease can be treated, both surgically and non-surgically. The precise treatment plan depends on the severity of disease. In most cases a regular hygiene regimen with regular scale and cleans and at home maintenance is all that is required. In some cases periodontal surgery is needed.
How common is periodontal disease?
Gum disease is a very common condition in Australia with 3 in every 10 adults having moderate to severe gum disease and most people experience it at least once during their lifetime. It is much less common in children. Rest assured however that periodontal disease is a treatable condition by your dentist and dental hygienist and its re-occurrence is preventable.
How can periodontal disease be prevented?
Periodontal disease can be prevented by getting professional dental cleaning at least twice a year, daily brushing and flossing and addressing any underlying health conditions.