Periodontal (gum) diseases, including gingivitisand periodontitis, are serious infections that,left untreated, can lead to tooth loss. The wordperiodontal literally means “around the tooth.”
Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterialinfection that affects the gums and bone
supporting the teeth. Periodontal disease canaffect one tooth or many teeth. It begins whenthe bacteria in plaque (the sticky, colorlessfilm that constantly forms on your teeth) causesthe gums to become inflamed.
In the mildest form of the disease, gingivitis,the gums redden, swell and bleed easily. Thereis usually little or no discomfort. Gingivitisis often caused by inadequate oral hygiene.
Gingivitis is reversible with professionaltreatment and good oral home care.
Untreated gingivitis can advance to periodontitis. Withtime, plaque can spread and grow below the gumline. Toxins produced by the bacteria in plaqueirritate the gums. The toxins stimulate achronic inflammatory response in which the bodyin essence turns on itself and the tissues andbone that support the teeth are broken down anddestroyed. Gums separate from the teeth, formingpockets (spaces between the teeth and gums) thatbecome infected. As the disease progresses, thepockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone aredestroyed. Often, this destructive process hasvery mild symptoms. Eventually, teeth can becomeloose and may have to be removed.