At least 80% of the population has one active site of gum or periodontal disease. Gum and periodontal disease are the same. The word periodontal means around the tooth.
Gum disease is a painless disease, however, the consequences it has on your total health can be costly. Gum diseases are serious chronic bacterial infections that can lead to tooth loss. The disease can affect one tooth or more teeth, the gums and bone supporting the teeth.
Persistent swollen, tooth sensitivity, and bad breath are among the warning signs of gum disease. Bleeding while brushing, flossing, or eating are additional symptoms of the disease. Also, gum recession is a symptom. Severe symptoms are loose teeth and shifting tooth positions. An examination of your gums and jaw bones is the only accurate way to determine if you have gum disease. This includes measuring the depth of the gum pockets and using x-rays to determine the bone level. The American Academy of Periodontology offers an online risk assessment test to see if you are at risk of gum disease.
Gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontal disease. It causes the gums to become red, swollen, and bleed easily. There is usually little or no discomfort at this stage. Gingivitis is often caused by inadequate oral hygiene. Gingivitis is reversible with professional treatment and good oral home care.
Untreated gingivitis can advance to periodontitis. With time, plaque can spread and grow below the gum line. The gums are irritated by toxins produced by the bacteria in plaque. The toxins stimulate a chronic inflammatory response in which the body in essence turns on itself, and the tissues and bone that support the teeth are broken down and destroyed. Gums separate from the teeth, forming pockets (spaces between the teeth and gums) that become infected. As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed. Often, this destructive process has very mild symptoms. Eventually, teeth can become loose and may have to be removed.
There are many forms of periodontitis.