Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection which can spread and destroy the structures around the teeth, like the alveolar bone, gums, and periodontal ligaments, as well as the jawbone. The bacteria are found within dental plaque that accumulates on the teeth and along the gum line. If left untreated, the disease spreads down in between the gums and eventually causes the structures around and under the tooth to deteriorate. In addition, periodontal disease has been linked to increased risks for other health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, and atherosclerosis.

One of the earliest warning signs is sore, swollen, and bleeding gums. This indicates your gums have become infected with bacteria and need to be treated. In this first stage, periodontal disease is referred to as gum disease or gingivitis. It is possible to treat gum disease and eliminate the infection for a full recovery. However, if gum disease is ignored, in hopes it will go away on its own, which it will not, it advances into second stage periodontal disease.

The body’s natural immune response actually contributes to causing gum disease to worsen. In response to the bacterial infection, the body releases substances that actually cause the gums to swell, become sore, and bleed. Additionally, as the infection spreads, the body responds by causing the gums to slowly recede and pull away from the bacteria, contained within the dental plaque on the teeth. This allows dental plaque and the bacteria to spread further down the surface of the tooth and under the gum line.

The second stage of periodontal disease is call periodontitis. Once the disease has reached this stage, it has caused irreversible damage to certain structures. Treatment and care are essential and normally require more frequent visits to your dentist. It is possible to manage the current damage and prevent it from worsening with the proper dental treatments and modifications to your dental care habits at home.

Once the bacteria have spread down under the gum line, in between the gum and teeth, it makes it more difficult to remove the dental plaque and calculus buildup. Brushing and flossing at home does not reach this area. The only way to get plaque removed from underneath the gum line and teeth is by seeing your dentist. Most dentists attempt to remove the plaque using various methods and techniques. In more severe cases, they will recommend scaling and root planing. This is where the gums are numbed so that the hygienist can go underneath the gum line to remove the plaque and any calcified plaque, commonly known as tartar.

The final stage of periodontal disease is called advanced periodontitis. At this point, the structures supporting the teeth have been destroyed. Teeth become loose, start to shift and even fall out. Treatments are very aggressive at this stage in order to attempt to save the teeth. Otherwise, the teeth will have to be extracted.

Regular visits to your dentist, at least twice a year; helps prevent and detect periodontal disease. Schedule your dental appointment today by calling Dentistry in Waterloo at 519-885-5880.