Periodontal disease is a serious infection of the gums and bone that support the teeth. It’s caused by a buildup of plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that forms on the teeth. If plaque is not removed by brushing and flossing, it can harden into tartar, which can irritate the gums and lead to inflammation. As the disease progresses, the gums can pull away from the teeth, forming pockets that can become infected. If left untreated, periodontal disease can cause tooth loss.
There are two types of periodontal disease: gingivitis and periodontitis.
- Gingivitis: Gingivitis is the early stage of periodontal disease. It’s characterized by red, swollen, and bleeding gums. Gingivitis is usually reversible with good oral hygiene.
- Periodontitis: Periodontitis is the advanced stage of periodontal disease. It’s characterized by deep pockets between the teeth and gums, bone loss, and tooth loss. Periodontitis is not reversible and requires professional treatment.
The symptoms of periodontal disease include:
- Red, swollen, and bleeding gums
- Loose or sensitive teeth
- A change in the way your teeth fit together
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to see your dentist right away. Early diagnosis and treatment of periodontal disease can help prevent tooth loss.
Here are some tips for preventing periodontal disease:
- Brush and floss your teeth twice a day.
- See your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings.
- Quit smoking.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Manage stress.
By following these tips, you can help prevent periodontal disease and keep your gums and teeth healthy.
If you have periodontal disease, your dentist will recommend a treatment plan that is right for you. Treatment may include:
- Scaling and root planing: This is a procedure in which the dentist removes plaque, tartar, and calculus from below the gum line.
- Deep cleaning: This is a more aggressive procedure than scaling and root planing. It is used to treat periodontitis that has progressed to the point where bone loss has occurred.
- Medications: Your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to help fight the infection.
- Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove diseased tissue and bone, or to reposition the gums.
Periodontal disease is a serious condition, but it is treatable. With early diagnosis and treatment, you can prevent tooth loss and keep your gums and teeth healthy.