Periodontal disease, meaning “disease around the tooth,” attacks the gums and the bones that support the teeth. Regular dental visits, good oral hygiene, and a balanced diet can help reduce your risk of developing this disease.

What causes periodontal disease?

Tartar (calculus) is developed when plaque, a sticky film of food debris, bacteria, and saliva, is not removed. If plaque and tartar are not removed, your gums and bone will begin to deteriorate, creating periodontal disease – often characterized by red, swollen, and bleeding gums.

Periodontal disease is the number one reason for tooth loss, although four out of five people don’t even realize they have this disease. The early stages of the disease are usually painless, which is why most people are not aware of any problems.

Research suggests that periodontal disease is linked to other diseases, such as stroke, bacterial pneumonia, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and increased risk during pregnancy. It is possible that inflammation and bacteria associated with periodontal disease are affecting these systemic diseases and conditions. Smoking also increases the risk of periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease signs and symptoms:

  • Bleeding gums – Even when you brush vigorously or use dental floss, healthy gums should never bleed.
  • Loose teeth – Weakened periodontal fibers (fibers that support the tooth) or bone loss can cause your teeth to loosen.
  • New spacing between teeth – Bone loss from this disease can cause new spacing between the teeth.
  • Persistent bad breath – Bacteria in the mouth can cause persistent bad breath.
  • Pus around the teeth and gums – This is a sign that infection is present.
  • Receding gums – Loss of gum around a tooth can be a sign of disease.
  • Red and puffy gums – Gums should never be red or swollen.
  • Tenderness or Discomfort – Gums and teeth are irritated by plaque, calculus (tartar), and bacteria.