Periodontal disease is a chronic inflammation & infection of the gums that gradually destroy the support 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 that infect the gums.
If this infection is prolonged, the gums separate from the teeth causing pockets (spaces) surrounding the teeth to form. Signs of this infection may not even be evident to you since surface tissue may appear healthy.
Bacterial plaque resides deep in the pockets, well protected from your tooth brush and floss. This is why if the infection becomes severe even those special instruments used by dental hygienists may not be sufficient to allow for the removal of this plaque. In this case, sometimes the use of advanced nonsurgical and/or surgical techniques to attain improved periodontal health are needed.
Plaque can also harden into a rough, porous substance known as calculus (or tartar). This can occur both above and below the gum line and complicates the removal of bacteria.
Periodontal treatment is necessary when these conditions affect the health of your gums and the regions of your jaw bone that hold your teeth in place. Retaining your teeth is directly dependent on proper periodontal care and maintenance. As periodontal diseases progress, the supporting gum tissue and bone that holds teeth in place deteriorate. 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 spoil your smile.
Don’t be fooled. With periodontal disease, bleeding, redness, and swelling are often not readily seen. Further, pain is usually not associated with periodontal disease. This disease damages the teeth, gum, and jaw bone of more than 80 percent of Americans by age 45. If you are in danger of losing your teeth to periodontal disease, you may want to consider dental implants to permanently replace natural teeth.