What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal means "around the tooth," so these are diseases that affect the gum and the bone structure that holds the tooth. Periodontal disease can occur when the naturally occurring bacteria in the mouth are not kept in check with proper brushing and oral hygiene.

Bacteria live in plaque, the film that constantly coats teeth. Too many bacteria can lead to gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums. Gingivitis causes the gums to swell, redden, and bleed easily during or after brushing. Gingivitis is easily dealt with. Professional dental care and a regular routine of good oral care at home can reverse the effects of gingivitis.

Untreated, gingivitis can worsen to become periodontitis. The plaque can mineralize and turn into calculus (also known as tartar) and further irritate the gum. Pockets of infection can form as the gum and even the bone are attacked. The destruction of gum and bone because of periodontitis will eventually necessitate the removal of the tooth.

Written and reviewed by the MediResource Clinical Team