Periodontal treatment is necessary when various conditions affect the health of your gums and the areas of your jawbone that hold your teeth in place. Retaining your teeth is directly dependent on proper periodontal care and maintenance. Healthy gums enhance the appearance of your teeth, like a frame around a beautiful painting. When your gums become unhealthy, they can either recede or become swollen and red. In the later stages of periodontal disease, the supporting bone is destroyed and your teeth will shift, loosen, or fall out. These changes not only affect your ability to chew and speak. They also spoil your smile.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is an ongoing infection of the gums that gradually destroys the support of your natural teeth. Periodontal disease affects one or more of the periodontal tissues: gingiva (gums), alveolar bone, periodontal ligament or cementum (the root of the tooth). While there are many diseases which could affect the tooth-supporting structures, plaque-induced inflammatory lesions make up the majority of periodontal problems and are divided into two categories: gingivitis and periodontitis. While gingivitis, the less serious of the two, may never progress into periodontitis, it always precedes periodontitis.
What Causes Periodontal Disease?
Dental plaque is the primary cause of gingivitis in genetically-susceptible individuals. Plaque is a sticky colorless film, composed primarily of food particles and various types of bacteria, which adhere to your teeth at and below the gum line. Plaque constantly forms on your teeth, even minutes after brushing. Bacteria found in plaque produce toxins or poisons that irritate the gums. Gums may become inflamed, red, swollen, and bleed easily. If this irritation persists, the gums separate from the teeth causing pockets (spaces) to form. If daily brushing and flossing is neglected, plaque can also harden into a rough, porous substance known as calculus ( tartar). Calculus can form both above and below the gum line.
If gingivitis progresses into periodontitis, the supporting gum tissue and the bone that holds teeth in place deteriorate. The progressive loss of this bone, the alveolar bone, can lead to loosening and subsequent loss of teeth. Periodontitis is caused by bacteria that adhere to the tooth’s surface and the body’s immune response to these bacteria.
Periodontal disease is dangerous in that it is often painless and symptomless. Eighty percent 80% of Americans will be afflicted with periodontal disease by age 45, and 4 out of 5 patients with the disease are unaware they have it. It is important to exercise proper home oral care and maintain regular Recare dental visits to reduce the risk of developing this disease.