The longer plaque and tartar are on teeth, the more harmful they become. The bacteria cause inflammation of the gums that is called "gingivitis." In gingivitis, the gums become red, swollen and can bleed easily. Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease that can usually be reversed with daily brushing and flossing, and regular cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist. This form of gum disease does not include any loss of bone and tissue that hold teeth in place. [pic]Back to top
When gingivitis is not treated, it can advance to "periodontitis" (which means "inflammation around the tooth.") In periodontitis, gums pull away from the teeth and form "pockets" that are 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 enzymes fighting the infection actually start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place. If not treated, the bones, gums, and connective tissue that support the teeth are destroyed. The teeth may eventually become loose and have to be removed. [pic]Back to top
• Smoking. Need another reason to quit smoking? Smoking is one of the most significant risk factors associated with the development of periodontitis. Additionally, smoking can lower the chances of success of some treatments. • Hormonal changes in girls/women. These changes can make gums more sensitive and make it easier for gingivitis to develop. • Diabetes. People with diabetes are at higher risk for developing infections, including periodontal disease. • Stress. Research shows that stress can make it more difficult for our bodies to fight infection, including periodontal disease. • Medications. Some drugs, such as antidepressants and some heart medicines, can affect oral health because they lessen the flow of saliva. (Saliva has a protective effect on teeth and gums.) • Illnesses. Diseases like cancer or AIDS and their treatments can also affect the health of gums. • Genetic susceptibility. Some people are more prone to severe periodontal disease than others.
How do I know if I have periodontal disease?
Symptoms are often not noticeable until the disease is advanced. They include: • Bad breath that won't go away
• Red or swollen gums
• Tender or bleeding gums
• Painful chewing
• Loose teeth
• Sensitive teeth
Gingivitis is the earliest stage, and affects only the gum tissue. At this stage, the disease is still reversible. Periodontitis is the more advanced stage of periodontal diseases. The gums, bone and other structures that support the teeth become damaged. Teeth can become loose and fall out - or may have to be removed. At this stage, the disease may require more complex treatment to prevent tooth loss. Here is a step-by-step illustration of the progress of gingivitis and periodontitis: The most common causes are:
• Gum disease
o Gum Disease is the major cause of loose teeth.
o The gums and supporting bone are destroyed.
o Loose teeth and receding gums are a symptom of gum disease. The word periodontal literally means "around the tooth." Healthy gum tissue fits like a cuff around each tooth. Where the gum line meets the tooth, it forms a slight v-shaped crevice called a sulcus. In healthy teeth, this space is three millimeters or less. Periodontal disease or gum disease begins when bacteria in plaque (the sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on teeth) produce byproducts (called toxins or enzymes) that irritate the gums and cause inflammation. The resulting infection, which may be painless, can damage the attachment of the gums, periodontal ligament, and bone. As the tissues are damaged, the sulcus develops into a pocket that is greater than three millimeters. Generally, the more severe the disease, the greater the pocket depth. The enlarged pockets trap bacteria and collect tartar, a porous deposit of minerals. This...
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