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What is Periodontal (Gum) Disease?

The term “periodontal” means “around the tooth.”  Periodontal disease (also known as periodontitis and/or gum disease) is a common inflammatory condition that affects the supporting and surrounding soft tissues of the tooth, eventually affecting the jawbone itself in the disease’s most advanced stages.

Periodontal disease is most often preceded by gingivitis which is a bacterial infection of the gum tissue.  A bacterial infection affects the gums when the toxins contained in plaque begin to irritate and inflame the gum tissues.  Once this bacterial infection colonizes in the gum pockets between the teeth, it becomes much more difficult to remove and treat.  There may be little or no signs or symptoms as the disease process causes the teeth to separate from the infected gum tissue.  Periodontal disease is a progressive condition that eventually leads to the destruction of the connective tissue and jawbone.  If left untreated, it can cause shifting teeth, loose teeth, and eventually tooth loss.

Not only is it the number one reason for tooth loss, research suggests there may be a link between periodontal disease and other diseases such as stroke, bacterial pneumonia, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and increased risk during pregnancy.  Researchers are determining if inflammation and bacteria associated with periodontal disease affects these systemic diseases and conditions. 

Four out of five people have some form of periodontal disease and don't know it!  Most people are not aware of it because the disease is usually painless in the early stages.

Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss among adults in the developed world and should always be promptly treated.


Please contact Dr. Guier's office if you have questions or concerns about periodontal disease, periodontal treatment, or dental implants.

 

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