What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is an infection of any of the structures that surround and support your teeth. At first, only your gums may become infected, but at later stages deeper tissues may be involved.
Types of Periodontal Disease
The most common types of periodontal disease include:
- Gingivitis (gum infection): Gingivitis is the early stage of periodontal disease that affects only the gum tissue. Gingiva, commonly referred to as gums, is the soft pink tissue at the floor of the oral cavity (mouth), which covers the roots of the teeth. Gingivitis may result from plaque (a sticky substance made up of bacteria) buildup on teeth and may lead to red, swollen gums that are prone to bleeding while brushing and flossing. Injury or trauma to the gums, due to improper brushing techniques and certain medical conditions, may increase your risk of developing gingivitis. Gingivitis is reversible at this stage; however, if left untreated it may progress to a more severe form of gum disease called periodontitis.
- Periodontitis: Periodontitis occurs from a progression of untreated gingivitis, affecting the tissues supporting the teeth, and resulting in the loss of bone and teeth. The periodontium refers to the tissue that surrounds and supports the root of the teeth. Periodontitis usually develops as a result of poor oral hygiene. Complications associated with periodontitis include the risk of heart attack or stroke, low birth weight babies, poorly controlled diabetes, and other serious health problems. Regular brushing, flossing and dental checkups can greatly reduce your chances of developing periodontitis.
Signs and Symptoms of Periodontal Disease
Healthy gums have a pink and firm appearance, do not bleed easily, and fit snugly around the root of your teeth. In mild cases, gum disease usually does not cause pain and is hence difficult to appreciate the disease. As the disease progresses patients may develop signs and symptoms of gingivitis which may include:
- Swollen, tender and red gums
- Bleeding gums when brushing or flossing
If gingivitis develops into periodontitis (affects the tissues that support the teeth resulting in loss of bone and teeth), you may also have the following symptoms:
- Receding gum line that may pull away from the teeth
- Bad breath
- Pus between your teeth and gums
- Change in bite pattern
- Loosening of the teeth