Chances are you’ve been hearing a lot about periodontal (perry-oh-DON-tal) disease. Most people don’t realize how common periodontal disease, or gum disease, is. According to the CDC, almost half of adults in the U.S. have some form of this disease, the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.
In most cases, periodontal disease does not cause any pain and goes unnoticed. However, early detection and treatment are important for preventing irreversible damage, such as tissue and bone loss. Periodontal disease happens when bacteria in plaque builds up and irritates the gum tissue, leading to inflammation and infection. The gums pull away from the bone and teeth lose support.
The earliest stage of periodontal disease is called gingivitis. The gums become red, swollen, and may bleed easily. At this stage, the disease is still reversible and can usually be eliminated by daily brushing, flossing and regular professional dental cleanings. If left untreated, the condition can progress to periodontitis, a more destructive form of the disease. Gums and bone that support the teeth can become seriously damaged or even destroyed. This may cause the teeth to become loose, fall out, or have to be removed by a dentist.
Some warning signs of periodontal disease may be:
- Gums that bleed when you brush or floss
- Red, swollen or tender gums
- Gums that have pulled away from your teeth
- Bad breath that doesn’t go away
- Pus between your teeth and gums
- Loose or separating teeth
- A change in the way your teeth fit together