What Is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal is a word that refers to everything surrounding the teeth. As dentists, we aren’t just interested in the teeth themselves. We want to protect the gums, bone, tendons, and joints of the face as well.

It’s very easy to forget that our gums need as much regular care and attention as our teeth do. Flossing and attentive care fall by the wayside far too often. However, taking care of your gums is critical to the prevention of periodontal disease.

Causes of Gum Disease

A couple smiling after their periodontal gum treatment

Each day our teeth and gums acquire a bacterial film called plaque. It is present in every mouth — regardless of age, health conditions, or any other factor. That’s why it must be kept at bay through regular brushing, flossing, and dental visits.

Plaque finds its way into the hard-to-reach spaces between teeth and at the edges of the gum line. Once there, it irritates the gums as bacteria flourish on the surface of your teeth.

This causes:

  • Swollen gums
  • Minor bleeding
  • Regular bad breath
  • Minor toothache pain
  • Sensitivity to temperature

These are all signs of gingivitis, the early form of gum disease. Gingivitis is simple to treat if it is noticed early enough. A thorough, professional cleaning by a hygienist, followed by proper daily brushing and flossing, can clear it up and restore the health of your gums.

Advanced Gum Disease

A bearded man smiling while wondering about the causes of periodontal disease

If left to its own devices, plaque will harden into tartar, irritating the gums even more and becoming an ideal foundation for collecting more plaque.

This process causes inflammation of the gums to increase, which eventually results in:

  • Gum recession
  • Gum swelling and bleeding
  • Increased pain and temperature sensitivity
  • Tooth loosening
  • Potential tooth loss

This stage of gum disease is called periodontitis.

Periodontitis cannot be treated at home. It is much more serious and harder to heal than gingivitis. This damage to the gums affects the bone and the adjacent teeth, making the risk of complete tooth loss very real.

A bearded man smiling while wondering about the causes of periodontal disease
An icon of a tooth and a dentist

While gingivitis on its own is relatively minor, it will become periodontitis if it isn’t caught and reversed early. Even if the symptoms seem harmless, they must be treated.

The key to any treatment of gum disease is the removal of both plaque and tartar. Tartar cannot be removed at home and requires professional intervention. This removal occurs by means of a deep cleaning.

Once the source of the inflammation is gone, your gums will have a chance to rest and recover.

An icon of a hand holding a tooth

The number one most effective recourse against periodontal disease is prevention. Visit our office regularly for cleanings and checkups to make sure that your gums stay healthy. We can also help you develop an effective brushing and flossing routine that can keep plaque and tartar at bay.

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We Can Help You Today

We want to help you defeat gum disease and protect your teeth. Call us today for any questions or to schedule an examination.