Periodontal (gum) disease begins when bacteria (a sticky biofilm that forms on teeth) produce toxins that irritate the gums. If the plaque is not removed daily through brushing and flossing, gum tissues may break down and become red, tender and likely to bleed.
The early stages of periodontal disease is called gingivitis. Gingivitis is treatable and reversible. However, if it is left untreated, it may progress into a serious condition called chronic periodontitis, a bacterial infection in the pockets around teeth. The bacteria and resulting tissue inflammation cause a breakdown of the gum tissue and bone, and eventually teeth become loose, fall out, or need to be removed.
Warning Signs of Gum Disease
Regular dental visits will help your dentist detect early signs of gum disease and suggested treatment options. Warning signs are:
How healthy are your gums?
The American Academy of Periodontology developed a risk assessment test to determine how healthy your gums currently are and if you are at risk for having or developing periodontal (gum) disease. If you have questions, please talk to your dentist or find a member dentist.
Prevention Connection: What can you do?
Prevention is key to maintaining good oral health and avoiding the risk of gum disease and other possible systemic conditions. The following tips are suggested for regular preventive care: