If left untreated, periodontal disease will lead to the loss of teeth. On the pathway to losing teeth, you may notice gums that bleed easily, teeth that are loose, and persistant bad breath. Periodontal disease is caused by an infection of the gums and the bodies response to that infection.
There is space between the tooth and gums. Plaque or a collection of bacteria accumulates in that space. If the plaque or bacteria are not removed each day, the body responds with inflammation to prevent the infection from spreading. This is often manifest by gums that bleed easily. We call this early periodontal disease gingivitis.
2 other things happen when the plaque is left in this space. The space gets bigger making it even harder to remove the bacteria. The plaque hardens and forms tartar or calculus. Once hardened, this bacteria can only be removed with a professional dental cleaning. As the space gets deeper and deeper, the gum tissue dies, and the bone is destroyed. Once more than 50% of the bone is missing the tooth often becomes loose. A loose tooth will often move leaving gaps between your teeth.
Once more than 75% of the bone is missing oftentimes the tooth will get so loose that it can fall out while eating. Once the space has been enlarged and the bone is destroyed it will never go back to being completely healthy. It is best to prevent periodontal disease or to treat it as soon as possible.
The best way to prevent periodontal disease is to see your dentist regulary for check-ups and cleanings. Professional dental cleanings will prevent gingivitis from turning into periodontal disease. You should have your teeth cleaned professionally at least once a year, and possibly as often as every few months.
Jonathan Campbell, DDS is a Salt Lake City dentist. He practices at Legacy Dental. He provides treatment for periodontal disease using antibiotic therapy, laser therapy, and conventional deep cleanings. Dr. Campbell uses Previser to help monitor the health of his patients and to improve their outcomes.