What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease, or periodontitis, is a serious gum disease that is caused by bacteria in the mouth and may result in eventual loss of teeth if not properly treated.  In fact, gum disease of this nature is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.  In most cases periodontal disease is caused by an advancement from gingivitis where pockets form between the inner layer of the gum and the teeth.  These pockets accumulated debris and, in time, may become infected.  Eventually the pockets get deeper and more tissue is destroyed – a series of events which ends in tooth loss.


There are several symptoms that may imply you have periodontitis.  Gums that bleed during brushing or flossing is a major one as are receding, red, or tender gums.  If you notice the pockets between teeth and gum have formed that is a sure sign.  Other symptoms include persistent bad breath and changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite down.


The most common cause, as stated above, is the plaque build-up that characterizes gingivitis but there are other factors in play as well.  Certain illnesses can play a part and people with diabetes especially are more prone to infection.  Hormonal changes like puberty or pregnancy can make gums more sensitive and certain medications may cause dry mouth which can aggravate the issue.  Additionally poor health habits like smoking or general lack of oral hygiene such as not brushing or flossing can make it easier for bacteria to take hold.

Treatment and Prevention

Once periodontal disease has taken hold treatments will need to be made by a dentist to reverse or repair any damage.  Professional dental cleaning will often stop the problem before it starts by removing plaque and tartar.  Root planing and scaling, which is a deep-cleaning technique will remove bacteria and smooth trouble spots.  Often the above are all that is necessary to prevent and treat periodontal disease however if the case is severe surgical interventions such as bone and tissue grafts may become necessary in order to retain your natural teeth.

Periodontal disease can be scary but if you take the right precautions you’re likely able to avoid it altogether.  Keep up good dental care habits and see your dentist regularly and you’ll be able to ensure you never have to deal with the unpleasantness of severe gum disease.  If you think you have periodontal disease and want an expert opinion contact us at Pickering Square Dental today.