Periodontal disease or periodontitis is the most prevalent disease in our mouths and is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection that affects the gums and bone supporting the teeth. It is a serious infection that, left untreated, can lead to bone loss, gum shrinkage and tooth loss.
Although more than 50% of adults have some form of periodontal disease, most affected do not know they have the disease, as periodontal disease is one of the silent diseases (i.e. like high blood pressure). This means that you may have no pain from this disease, but if left untreated, it can become a serious problem and you may lose your teeth.
Periodontal disease can affect one tooth or many teeth. It begins when bacterial plaque is left behind on the teeth or gums after eating. This presence of bacterial plaque triggers an inflammatory response, causing the gums to become swollen and bleed easily. This is the mildest form of periodontal disease, called gingivitis and there is usually little or no discomfort. Gingivitis is reversible with professional treatment and good oral home care.
Untreated gingivitis can advance to periodontitis. With time, plaque can spread and grow below the gum line. Plaque releases toxins (poisons), which damages the attachment between the gums and the teeth, forming pockets (space between the teeth and gums). These pockets can collect and trap more food/ bacterial products and prevent proper access. Once pockets are past 4-5mm deep, you are no longer able to reach and remove plaque effectively even with regular brushing and flossing. As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed. Often, this destructive process has very mild symptoms. Eventually, teeth can become loose and may have to be removed. The most important factor of this disease is that it is PREVENTABLE and TREATABLE!
What are the dangers of periodontal disease?
Not only does periodontal disease affect our oral cavity causing tooth loss, it creates systemic inflammation that affects our entire body. Refer to Mouth-body Connection to find out more.