Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects the gums and supporting structures of the teeth. It is caused by the bacterial infection and the body’s immune response to the bacteria in dental plaque.
There are two main stages of periodontal disease
- Gingivitis: Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease and primarily affects the gums. It is characterized by inflammation of the gums, causing them to become red, swollen, and prone to bleeding, especially during brushing or flossing. However, at this stage, the infection has not yet spread to the underlying bone and tissue that support the teeth. Gingivitis is reversible with proper treatment and good oral hygiene practices.
- Periodontitis: If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, which is a more advanced stage of gum disease. Periodontitis involves the inflammation and infection of the gums and the surrounding structures, including the periodontal ligament and alveolar bone. As the infection progresses, the gums may recede, creating pockets between the teeth and gums. These pockets become a breeding ground for bacteria and can lead to further destruction of the supporting structures, including bone loss and loosening of the teeth. Periodontitis can cause tooth mobility and, in severe cases, tooth loss.
Signs and symptoms of periodontal disease include:
- Red, swollen, or tender gums
- Gums that bleed easily, especially during brushing or flossing
- Receding gums
- Persistent bad breath or bad taste in the mouth
- Changes in the bite or way the teeth fit together
- Pus between the teeth or gums
- Loose or shifting teeth
- Changes in position of the teeth
Periodontal disease is influenced by various factors, including poor oral hygiene, smoking, certain medications, hormonal changes, genetics, diabetes, stress, and poor nutrition.
Treatment for periodontal disease depends on the severity of the condition. It typically involves professional cleaning, called scaling and root planing, to remove plaque and tartar from below the gumline. In more advanced cases, surgical interventions may be required to clean deep pockets and repair damaged tissues. Maintaining proper oral hygiene practices, regular dental check-ups, and lifestyle modifications are crucial for managing and preventing the progression of periodontal disease.