WHAT IS PERIODONTAL DISEASE?
Periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory disease affecting at least 25% of adults. It is typically a painless and slowly progressing disease that results in destruction of the supporting bone and gums around the teeth. This results in formation of periodontal pockets and/or recession. It is caused by specific bacteria in dental plaque (the soft white stuff that forms on your teeth after brushing).
Once plaque builds up, within a few days there are the first signs of gingivitis; inflammation of the gums with bleeding, redness and mild swelling. Gingivitis is a reversible infection; if you remove the plaque with brushing and your regular professional scale and clean visits at your general dentist, the gums will return to health.
In some people however, if the plaque is not removed, the next stage of the infection is destruction of jaw the bone that supports the teeth. The natural progression of the disease is bone loss, tooth mobility and eventual tooth loss.
This destruction is irreversible; once the bone has been lost it will not grow back.
Because it is a painless disease, you may not notice that you have periodontal disease until it has progressed to the level that you have bleeding gums or loose teeth. Your dentist will examine your gums at each check-up appointment and can note signs of early disease such as bleeding on probing, pockets of infection, or bone loss on x-rays. If these signs of disease are found, referral to a periodontist may be recommended.