Healthy gums are the foundation of a healthy smile. Healthy gums enhance the appearance of your teeth, like a frame around a beautiful painting. Periodontal diseases are infections of the gums and supporting jaw bone that gradually destroy the support of your natural teeth. This infection and destruction is usually NOT PAINFUL, therefore, patients are often times unaware of the presence and extent of the disease.
Periodontal treatment is necessary when various conditions affect the health of your gums and the regions of your jawbone that hold your teeth in place. Retaining your teeth is directly dependent on proper periodontal care and maintenance.
Gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontal disease characterized by red, swollen gums that bleed easily while brushing or flossing. There is usually little or no discomfort at this stage. Gingivitis is often caused accumulation of oral bacteria and biofilm secondary to inadequate oral hygiene or infrequent dental “cleanings”. Gingivitis is reversible with professional treatment and good oral home care.
Untreated gingivitis can advance to periodontitis. Dental plaque is the primary cause of gum disease. With time, plaque can spread and grow below the gum line. Toxins produced by the bacteria in plaque and biofilm irritate the gums and supporting bone. The toxins stimulate a chronic inflammatory response that results in the breakdown of the tissues and bone that support the teeth. Gums separate from the teeth, forming pockets (spaces between the teeth and gums) that become infected. As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed. Often, this destructive process has very mild symptoms. Eventually, teeth can become loose and may have to be removed.
With periodontal disease, bleeding, redness, and swelling do not have to be present. Further, pain is usually not associated with periodontal disease.