Periodontal or gum disease is a serious infection that destroys gums and can damage the jawbone. The overall health of your gums, jawbone, and teeth depends on your periodontal care and upkeep. Healthy gums are a reflection of a healthy mouth. They amplify the appearance of beautiful teeth, but they can also show signs of a deeper problem. If gums are red and swollen, it may mean that there is a bigger problem on the bone-level. If the bone breaks down, it loses the strength to hold teeth in place, affecting the ability to chew, speak, and smile confidently.
There are four periodontal tissues that may be affected by periodontal disease: alveolar bone, periodontal ligament, cementum, or gingiva. The majority of periodontal issues are caused by plaque-induced inflammatory lesions, which are either classified in two groups: gingivitis or periodontitis.
Caused by dental plaque and poor oral hygiene, gingivitis precedes periodontitis but is treatable. A sticky film that coats teeth and contains bacteria, plaque is composed primarily of food particles which get caught below the gum line, even after brushing. The toxins that are produced by the bacteria in plaque leave gums irritated, inflamed, red, and susceptible to bleeding. Prolonged irritation can lead to the gums separating from teeth, opening pockets that trap more bacteria and cause more serious irritation. If proper steps aren’t taken to reverse the effects of plaque buildup, the plaque may turn to tartar, a calcified deposit that contributes to tooth decay above or below the gum line.
Because plaque is odorless and colorless, it can be hard to detect, Similarly, periodontal disease is often painless and symptomless, and 4 out of 5 patients with the disease are unaware they have it. Visiting your dentist regularly and maintaining proper oral hygiene are important steps to reducing your risk and keeping your mouth, teeth, gums, and jawbone healthy.