Having healty gums is as important as having healthy teeth.
Periodontal (gum) diseases are serious infections that can lead to tooth loss if left untreated. The word periodontal literally means "around the tooth". Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection that affects the gums and the bone supporting the teeth. The main cause of periodontal disease is bacterial plaque, which produces toxins that irritate the gums, causing swelling and bleeding. Bacterial plaque constantly forms on the teeth and should be removed by daily oral care including brushing, flossing and using mouthwashes. If daily oral care is inadequate, this plaque will harden into tartar. Additional causes of gum disease are genetics, stres, diabetes, poor nutrition, medication(s) and grinding teeth.
In the mildest form of the disease, gingivitis, the gums redden, swell and bleed easily. There is usually little or no discomfort. Gingivitis is often caused by inadequate oral hygiene. Gingivitis is reversible with professional treatment and good oral home care.
Untreated gingivitis can advance to periodontitis. With time, plaque can spread and grow below the gum line. Toxins produced by the bacteria in plaque irritate the gums. The toxins stimulate a chronic inflammatory response and the tissues and bone that support the teeth are broken down and destroyed. Gums separate from the teeth, forming pockets that become infected. As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed. Often, this destructive process has very mild symptoms. Eventually, teeth can become loose and have to be removed.
Surgical and non-surgical treatment procedures are available depending on the severity of the gum disease.