Periodontal disease is a preventable oral disease that’s caused by the buildup of bacteria-laden plaque and tartar between your gums and teeth. If you do not brush and floss properly and maintain other essential oral health habits, you may develop periodontal disease.
As plaque and tartar build up between your teeth and gums, bacteria will begin to infect the surrounding gum tissue. In early stages of gum disease, this causes inflammation and gum tenderness. Left unchecked, however, the infection will continue to spread and destroy the gums, the supporting structures of your teeth, and even your jaw bone. If you suspect that you have periodontal disease, it’s very important to get help right away.
There are two primary stages of periodontal disease, which are called “gingivitis” and “periodontitis.” Gingivitis is the most common type of gum disease, and during this stage, no permanent damage has been done to your teeth or gums. Gingivitis is completely reversible, and can be totally eliminated.
This stage of the disease is characterized by relatively mild symptoms. You will likely notice problems like swelling and inflammation of your gums, reddish or purplish gum discoloration, and bad breath (halitosis). Your gums also may bleed quite a bit when you brush or floss.
If you do not get treatment for gingivitis, it will progress further into periodontitis, the second stage of the disease. This type of gum disease is not reversible. It can be managed and controlled, but you will need to have regular periodontal appointments to keep it in check for the rest of your life.
Periodontitis results in more serious symptoms like gum recession, which may make your teeth look longer. Your teeth will feel more sensitive to heat and cold, and the pressure of chewing. They may look very inflamed and swollen, and bleed for no reason.
When periodontitis is left untreated, it can cause serious damage to your teeth. This is sometimes called “advanced periodontitis.” Your teeth may become loose or even fall out altogether. If your case of periodontitis is this advanced, you may need surgical treatments to save your teeth, or you may need to have your remaining teeth extracted and replaced with dentures or implant-supported dentures.