Frequently Asked Questions - Gum Disease

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is one of the most common diseases affecting mankind. It is a painless chronic infection that affects nearly 90% of us by age 35. We are not all equally susceptible to the disease and the damage it causes. There is a strong genetic component to gum disease so family history is important. 75% of adult tooth loss is due to periodontal disease.

What causes the disease?

It is caused by bacteria that form a sticky film [ biofilm ] that aheres to the teeth at the gum line. The bacteria grow under the gum in a space called a gum pocket. If the plaque is not removed the bacteria cause infection and inflammation.

What causes bone loss and gum recession?

The inflammation and infection break the attachment of the gum to the tooth. The gum tissue protects the bone that supports the teeth and when that protection is lost bone loss can occur.

What are the dental consequences of gum disease?

Gum recession and root exposure causing tooth sensitivity can occur as bone and gum is destroyed. Bone loss can cause tooth loosening and eventually tooth loss. Teeth may drift and spaces may open between teeth leading to food impaction and soreness. Bad breathe and taste can occur as pus and toxins leak from the gum.

What if I don't do anything?

The disease will not go away and as it progresses more and more damage accumulates. The disease can accelerate rapidly at times due to a number of different factors such as stress, smoking, systemic diseases such as Diabetes or a change in the bacteria that form the plaque. It is unpredictable. The damage it does can be irreversible.

How do I know if I need treatment?

Your general dentist can recognize the problem and tell you if treatment is required. If your dentist recommends treatment or refers you to a periodontist it is best to follow their advice and begin treatment. The earlier the disease is treated the easier it is to control.

Can I be cured?

No, a cure is not possible but it can be controlled with proper care.

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