Periodontal disease is a chronic infection in the gums and supporting bone that is mainly caused by bacteria, viruses, and fungus. Most of the bacteria that causes periodontal disease is naturally occurring in the mouth. A sticky film called “plaque” attaches to the teeth, and when not brushed and flossed away it creeps below the gum line and attaches to the root.
The bacteria in plaque produce toxins and poisons that directly and indirectly irritate and destroy the oral tissues. In the early stages (gingivitis), the gums may become red, inflamed and swollen. Bleeding is often noted.
When left untreated, the gum tissue begins to separate from the teeth which permits infections to progress into the bone. This painless transformation from health to disease often occurs without any noticeable symptoms to the patient.
As these periodontal infections progress, the supporting bone and the gum tissue begin to deteriorate. The tooth support is destroyed and as the infection advances the teeth become loose. 75% percent of adult tooth loss is a result of periodontal infections.
SYMPTOMS OF PERIODONTAL INFECTION
Periodontal infection is usually painless until it reaches an advanced stage. However, there are some symptoms which can indicate the presence of periodontal infection.
- Red or swollen gums
- Bleeding when brushing (pink toothbrush)
- Aching, itchy, sore or tender gums
- Receeding gums (teeth beginning to look longer)
- Pus between your teeth and gums when pressing down on the gums
- Bad breath
- Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- Any change in the fit of partial dentures
- Loose, separating, or protruding teeth
- Spaces between teeth
If you notice any of the above warning signs of periodontal infection, please contact your general dentist and ask for a periodontal evaluation.
Important Note: Your gums can look and feel quite normal yet deep pockets of periodontal infection can still be present. To be certain about any periodontal disease, ask your dentist or periodontist to examine your gums for signs of infection.