Periodontal DiseaseThe word ‘periodontal’ means ‘around the tooth’. Periodontal disease attacks the gums and bone that surround and support the teeth.
Plaque is a sticky film of food debris, bacteria and saliva. If plaque is not removed, it turns into calculus (tartar). When plaque and calculus are not removed, they begin to destroy the gums and bone. The resulting periodontal disease is characterised by red, swollen and bleeding gums.
Four out of five people have periodontal disease and don’t know it. Most people are unaware of it, because the disease is usually painless in the early stages.
Not only is periodontal disease 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 and cardiovascular disease.
There is an increased risk of periodontal disease during pregnancy. Smoking also increases the risk of periodontal disease.
Good oral hygiene, a balanced diet and regular dental visits can help reduce your risk of developing periodontal disease.
Signs and symptoms of periodontal disease
- Bleeding gums – gums should never bleed, even when you brush vigorously or use dental floss.
- Loose teeth – this can be caused by bone loss or weakened periodontal fibres (fibres that support the tooth to the bone) around the teeth.
- New spacing between teeth – caused by the loss of bone surrounding the teeth.
- Persistent bad breath – caused by bacteria in the mouth.
- Pus around the teeth and gums – this is a sure sign an infection is present.
- Receding gums – loss of gum tissue around the teeth.
- Red and puffy gums – gums should never be red or swollen.
Tenderness or discomfort – plaque, calculus and bacteria irritate the gums and teeth. This leads to tenderness and discomfort.