Your Oral Health

About Periodontal Disease

The word "periodontal" literally means "around the tooth." Periodontal disease (also known as "gum disease", "pyorrhea" or "periodontal infection") is an ongoing bacterial infection which affects the gums and bone around your teeth. This infection leads to an inflammation underneath the gums. If left untreated, this inflammation can destroy the bone around your teeth. This, in turn, results in tooth loss. 75% of all adult tooth loss is due to periodontal infection.

More importantly, research has associated periodontal infection to several serious medical problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. As ongoing research continues to define how periodontal disease is associated with these and other health problems, oral health maintenance remains vital. Periodontal health is a key component to a healthy body.

What Is an "Ongoing Infection?"

Stages of Periodontal Disease

Have you ever gotten a sliver of wood caught under the skin of your hand? Since the wound is open to bacteria, the site may become infected, and so therefore red and inflamed. In time, however, your immune system fights off the bacteria and your hand heals.

During an Ongoing Infection, however, your immune system is unable to conquer the bacteria on its own, and so the pain and redness continue to worsen.

Periodontal disease is an ongoing infection afflicting the pockets which surround your teeth. You cannot fight off this infection alone, but with periodontal therapy, we are able to remove debris and bacteria from the site, allowing the gum to heal as your hand had.

What Can Cause a "Burst" of Infection Activity?

Healthy Gums vs Periodontal DiseasePeople with periodontal disease have low resistance to periodontal bacteria. This results in an ongoing gum infection that grows in "bursts" of activity. Each time it grows, more and more support for your teeth is lost. Some factors which may cause a "burst" of activity are:

  1. Poor oral hygiene
  2. Dental plaque
  3. Smoking
  4. Genetic factors
  5. Stress or tension
  6. Diet
  7. Age
  8. Illness

Getting Periodontal Infection Treated Right Away

When your infection has a burst of activity, or when there are signs that this is about to occur, your general dentist may recommend you see a Periodontist.

Symptoms of Periodontal Infection

Periodontal infection is Typically Painless until it reaches an advanced stage. However, there are some symptoms which may indicate the presence of periodontal infection.

These include:

  1. Red or swollen gums
  2. Bleeding when brushing (pink toothbrush), or at other times
  3. Aching, itchy, sore or tender gums
  4. Receding gums (teeth beginning to look longer)
  5. Pus between your teeth and gums when you press down on the gums
  6. Bad breath
  7. Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  8. Any change in the fit of partial dentures
  9. Loose, separating or protruding teeth
  10. Spaces between teeth

If you notice any of the above warning signs of periodontal infection, please contact your general dentist and ask for a periodontal evaluation.

Important Note: Your gums can look and feel quite normal, and yet deep pockets of periodontal infection may nevertheless be present. To be certain about any periodontal disease, ask your dentist or periodontist to examine your gums for signs of infection.