Periodontal (gum) disease is insidious. It affects more than 90% of the population. Periodontal disease begins as a localized infection of the gums also known as gingivitis. Food debris left around the necks of the teeth form plaque that harbor vast amounts of bacteria. The body combats this infection and inflammation is the result. The tissue bleeds easily on probing and the swelling leads to deeper pocketing around the necks of the teeth. Gingivitis is reversible and if the plaque is removed daily, no permanent changes occur. Left unchecked however, the soft and easily removed plaque, eventually hardens into tartar or calculus. Like a splinter, this calculus irritates not only the tissue but the underlying bone and eventually results in periodontitis or bone loss. Except for bad breath and gums that bleed, there are very few early warning signals. The disease advances silently, often without pain, and before you know it, you are losing your teeth.
Tooth loss is the most obvious indicator of gum disease. Scientific research has discovered a linkage between gum disease and stroke, heart disease, diabetes – even an increased risk for pregnant women. When your gums become diseased, your entire immune system is weakened.
In the past, lack of understanding and fear have kept people with gum disease from seeking the care they needed. Today, there are a number of methods to combat periodontal disease. Foremost is education. Understanding how periodontal disease develops and it’s warning signs can lead to early intervention. Treatment is designed to assist the patient to avoid extensive surgery and make the most of home care. If you suspect that you may have some form of periodontal disease, call and make an appointment for an evaluation.