Periodontal disease, commonly called gum disease, is an infection of the gum tissue supporting your teeth. Periodontal disease attacks your gums just below the gum line, causing the tissue to break down. If left untreated, gum disease can result in infections and ultimately tooth loss.It increases your risk of serious health conditions such as:
- Heart disease
Causes of Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease is most often caused by the buildup of plaque on your teeth. Plaque is a filmy substance composed of bacteria. Over time, plaque that is not removed from your teeth by brushing and flossing will harden and become tartar. If tartar builds up below the gum line, it can cause an inflammation or infection, which ultimately becomes gum disease.
Other factors which may contribute to the development of gum disease include:
- Hormonal changes occurring during pregnancy, puberty, menopause, or menstruatio
- Illnesses such as cancer, HIV, or diabetes
- Genetic predisposition
- Poor dental hygiene habits
Symptoms of Periodontal Disease
The early stages of gum disease are often painless and lack any obvious warning signs. As a result, it is important to visit our Mesa dentists twice a year for your regular checkups so that we can diagnose and treat any periodontal disease you may experience while it is still in its early stages.
As your gum disease becomes more severe, you may notice some of the following symptoms:
- Bleeding gums after brushing
- Red, swollen, or tender gums
- Receding gum line
- Formation of deep pockets between teeth and gums
- Chronic bad breath
- Loose or shifting teeth
- Changes in the way teeth fit together when biting
Stages of Gum Disease
There are two stages of periodontal disease:
Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease and consists of an inflammation of the gums. During this phase, no irreversible bone or tissue damage has occurred. Gingivitis can be treated by regular brushing and flossing.
When left untreated, gingivitis may develop into periodontitis. In this stage of periodontal disease, the inner layer of your gum tissue and bone separate from the teeth, forming pockets which can become infected. Over time, these pockets deepen and begin to destroy the bone and gum tissue. Eventually, this can lead to tooth loss.
Treatment of Periodontal Disease
In severe cases of periodontal disease, surgery may be required to treat the condition. These cases are generally referred to the periodontist who specializes in treating the worst cases of periodontal disease. Surgical options include:
- Flap surgery/pocket reduction surgery
- Bone grafts
- Soft tissue grafts
- Guided tissue regeneration
- Bone surgery