Causes of Periodontal Diseases
Periodontal diseases are caused by certain types of bacteria in plaque, the sticky, colorless film of bacteria that constantly forms on teeth. Plaque that is not removed can combine with other materials and harden into a rough, porous deposit called tartar. These bacteria create toxins which irritate the gums and result in a break down of the attachment of gum tissues to teeth. Over time, these toxins can destroy gum tissues, allowing the infection to progress to bone loss.
Types of Periodontal Diseases
While there are many forms of gingival and periodontal diseases, the most common types are gingivitis and adult periodontitis.
Gingivitis is the earliest stage, and affects only the gum tissue. At this stage, the disease is still reversible. If not treated, however, it may lead to a more severe condition.
Periodontitis is the more advanced stage of periodontal disease. 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.
Other Factors Contributing to Periodontal Diseases
Although periodontal disease is caused by plaque, a number of other factors can increase the risk, severity and speed of development of the condition:
- Smoking or chewing tobacco
- Poorly fitting bridges, badly aligned teeth or defective fillings
- Habits which place excessive biting forces on your teeth
- Poor diet
- Pregnancy or use of oral contraceptives
- Systemic diseases such as AIDS or diabetes which can lower the tissues’ resistance to infection
- Medications such as steroids, anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs and some calcium channel blockers affect the gums.
Symptoms of Periodontal Disease
- Gums that bleed easily
- Red, swollen or tender gums
- Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
- Pus between the teeth and gums when the gums are pressed
- Persistent bad breath or bad taste
- Permanent teeth that are loose or separating
- Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- Any change in the fit of partial dentures
Prevention of Periodontal Disease
Keeping your teeth and gums healthy for a lifetime is possible if you take proper care of them:
- Clean your teeth daily by brushing thoroughly at least twice a day. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush that is in good condition.
- Use dental floss or other interdental cleaners to aid in removing plaque from between teeth.
- Use fluoride toothpaste and mouth rinses with the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance to help prevent tooth decay.
- Eat a balanced diet for good general health.
- Schedule regular dental visits.