Diseases of the Gums
Diseases of the gums are more properly known as Periodontal Disease. Periodontal disease is defined by the American Dental Association (ADA) as an “inflammatory process of the gingival tissues and/or periodontal membrane of the teeth, resulting in an abnormally deep gingival sulcus, possibly producing periodontal pockets and loss of supporting alveolar bone.”
Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums, which gradually destroy the supporting structure of your natural teeth. Dental plaque is the primary cause of gum disease in genetically susceptible individuals. Bacteria found in plaque produce toxins or poisons, which irritate the gums. They may cause them to turn red, swell and bleed easily. If this irritation is prolonged, the gums separate from the teeth, causing pockets (spaces) to form. These pockets allow bacteria to multiply undisturbed by tooth brushing or flossing. Plaque can also harden into a rough, porous substance known as calculus (tartar). This can occur both above and below the gumline.
As periodontal diseases progress, the supporting gum tissue and bone that holds teeth in place deteriorate. If left untreated, this leads to tooth loss. However, don’t be fooled, with periodontal disease, bleeding, redness and swelling do not have to be present.
Many individuals have receded gums and bone loss yet have experienced little redness, bleeding or swelling. This can occur without a pocket developing making diagnosis more difficult. Patients notice longer teeth. Furthermore, discomfort is usually not associated with periodontal disease, therefore, it is considered a ‘silent disease’. This disease damages the teeth, gums and jawbone of approximately 47.2% of American adults.
Periodontal treatment is necessary when various conditions affect your overall health and oral health. The health of your gums and the regions of your jawbone which hold your teeth in place are of concern. Retaining your teeth is directly dependent on proper periodontal care and maintenance. Healthy gums enhance the appearance of your teeth, like a frame around a beautiful painting.
When our gums become unhealthy, they can either recede or become swollen and red. In later stages, the supporting bone is destroyed and your teeth will shift, loosen, or fall out. These changes not only affect your ability to chew and speak, they also cause bad breath and can contribute to systemic diseases.
Heart disease and stroke, diabetes, respiratory diseases and pregnancy complications are a few of the diseases that are associated with periodontal disease.