Periodontal (gum) disease is the inflammation and bacterial infection of the gums and the tissue. It is the major cause of adult tooth loss. Patient often don't realize they have gum disease because pain may not be present.
Plaque is a sticky, colorless film containing bacteria that adheres to the teeth at and below the gum line. If not carefully removed by daily brushing and flossing, plaque will harden into a rough, porous mineral substance known as tartar (or calculus). Tartar forms at and underneath the gum line, and because it is porous, it absorbs stains. Tartar excretes the toxins that cause gum inflammation, resulting in the development of periodontal pockets that hold even more toxins and bacteria. This condition can lead to the loosening of the teeth, or even the teeth falling out. And as the condition worsens, the accumulated toxins and bacteria move deeper into the jaw to destroy the bone that holds the tooth in place.
Periodontal bacteria can also leak into the blood stream, and migrate to the organs. More and more studies have connected periodontal disease with multiple overall health problems. Patients with active periodontal disease have been shown to be at higher risk for complications from diabetes, heart disease, stroke, pregnancy, and some cancers.
Signs of gum disease can include:
- Red, inflamed gums
- Bleeding while brushing or flossing
- Receding gums
- Loose or separating teeth
- Presence of pus between the gum and tooth
- Chronic halitosis
- A change in the way the teeth fit together
Conditions that are linked to increased risk of gum disease include:
- Heart disease
- Respiratory disease
- Smoking/tobacco use
- Poor nutrition
- Certain medications