If you have been told you have periodontal (gum) disease, you’re not alone. Many adults in the U.S. currently have some form of the disease. The main cause of periodontal disease is plaque, but other factors affect the health of your gums and include age, smoking/tobacco use, genetics, stress, medications, poor nutrition and more.
Periodontal diseases range from simple gum inflammation to serious disease that results in major damage to the soft tissue and bone that support the teeth. Whether your gum disease is stopped, slowed, or gets worse depends a great deal on how well you care for your teeth and gums every day, from this point forward.
When gingivitis is not treated, it can advance to periodontitis, which means there is inflammation around the tooth. In periodontitis, gums pull away from the teeth and form spaces, called pockets, that become infected. The body’s immune system fights the bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line. Bacterial toxins and the body’s natural response to infection start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place. If not treated, the bones, gums, and tissue that support the teeth are destroyed and the teeth may eventually have to be removed.
A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal disease, the placement of dental implants, and the treatment of oral inflammation. Periodontists are also familiar with the latest techniques for diagnosing and treating periodontal disease, and are also trained in performing cosmetic periodontal procedures.