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What is it?

Periodontal (Gum) diseases are infections of the gums and bone that surround and support the teeth. It’s generally caused by poor brushing and flossing habits that allow plaque-a sticky film of bacteria-to build up on the teeth and harden. The word ‘periodontal’ (from Greek peri “around” and odontos “tooth”) literally means ‘around the tooth’. In advanced stages, Periodontal diseases are infections of the gums and bone that surround and support the teeth.

When bacteria stay on the teeth long enough, these bacteria, along with salivary proteins, they form a film called plaque on teeth, which eventually hardens to tartar. Only a  dentist can remove the tartar and prevent the cause of periodontal diseases.

Gum disease can be characterized by not only bleeding gums, but also redness and swelling, chronic bad breath, and loose teeth. If you have family history of periodontal disease, there is a higher risk that you may have this disease.

You may have periodontal disease if you have:

  • Bleeding gums when brushing
  • Red, swollen,puffy-looking or tender gums
  • Abscesses on the gum
  • Pus secreting from between the teeth and gums
  • Loose teeth
  • Teeth appearing to drift apart from its original position
  • Receeding gumline (gum recession)
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Vague discomfort or dull-ache of gums and teeth

Certain factors increase the risk for periodontal disease:

  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Stress
  • Heredity
  • Crooked teeth
  • Fillings that have become defective
  • Taking medications that cause dry mouth
  • Bridges that no longer fit properly
  • Female hormonal changes, such as with pregnancy or the use of oral contraceptives

Common Signs

The two most common forms of periodontal diseases are gingivitis and periodontitis. Typical bacterial gingivitis is usually a painless condition, even when the gums are bleeding. They become bright red and swell up. Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums caused by bacteria. Eventually the bacteria can get into the bones at the root of the teeth and eat them away. This latter stage is called periodontitis. It’s a leading cause of tooth loss in the overall population and the number one cause in elders.

Daily brushing and flossing, regular dental examinations, and quitting tobacco use are the best defense against periodontal disease.

If you have any problems with your gums, call us immediately and let our Dentists help you.

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