What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease is the number one cause of tooth loss in the U.S. today. It is an infection that attacks the gums and bone surrounding the teeth. If left untreated, it causes supporting bone to be lost around the teeth.

Plaque, a sticky, colorless film of food and bacteria, forms constantly on teeth. If not removed, plaque hardens to become calculus (or tartar) in as little as 24 hours. Your gums swell, get red and tender, and bleed when you brush or floss.

Over the time, the plaque and tartar work their way down below the gumline. The natural space between your teeth and gums becomes infected, and deepens. The gums begin to separate from the tooth as the bone and connective tissue are destroyed.

The spaces between the teeth and gums are called periodontal pockets. The formation of these pockets indicates progressive destruction of the supporting tissue, and creates the perfect environment for the growth of even more harmful bacteria.


If the calculus isn't removed by dental professionals, your body responds to the infection by sending white blood cells (the body's natural defense) to the infected area. When these white blood cells reach your gums, they release enzymes to attack the infection. Unfortunately, a side effect of these enzymes is the loss of the normal gum attachment and bone loss (periodontitis).

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Stages of Periodontal Disease:

• Gingivitis
• Periodontitis
• Advanced Periodontitis

• Gingivitis - the mildest, most reversible form begins with plaque on your teeth. Your body's reaction to the bacteria in plaque and tartar causes the typical signs of gingivitis - red swollen bleeding gums.

• Periodontitis - as the plaque and tartar works it's it way down below the gumline, the gums begin to separate away from the tooth forming a pocket. Once a pocket has formed, the process accelerates as new, even more destructive types of bacteria begin to populate the pocket. A side effect of your body's reaction to plaque and tartar is the loss of the normal gum attachment and bone loss (periodontitis).

• Advanced Periodontitis - if periodontitis progresses unchecked, the bone loss continues. Eventually, so much bone is lost that some of the teeth begin to become loose.

Get diagnosis and treatment early before too much bone is lost.

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