A Periodontist is a dentist who specializes in prevention, diagnosis, treatment of the gums, soft tissues, bone that support the teeth and is trained to place dental implants.
Periodontal disease affects the gums and the bone that support the teeth. The main cause of the disease is bacterial plaque: a sticky, colorless film that contains different kinds of bacteria that constantly forms on your teeth. If the plaque is not removed, it hardens into a rough deposit called calculus. Toxins produced from the bacteria present in the plaque or calculus irritating the gum and can make them red, tender, swollen and cause them to bleed easily. The earliest stage of the disease is called “gingivitis.” Gingivitis can be treated with a professional cleaning by the periodontist and maintaining a good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing on a daily basis.
Untreated gingivitis can lead to periodontitis in which the toxins destroy the tissues and the bone supporting the teeth, leading to the formation of pockets, gingival recession. Unless treated, the affected teeth can become “loose” and eventually be lost.
Other factors that contribute to periodontal disease
Although plaque is the primary cause of periodontal disease, the presence of other factors can be harmful such as: smoking, stress and the presence of disease that inhibits the body’s ability to fight infection such as leukemia and uncontrolled diabetes. Clenching your teeth will harm the bone supporting the teeth.
Relation between periodontal disease and other systemic diseases
Growing research is suggesting that there is a link between periodontal disease and systemic disease such as respiratory and heart diseases. What we know is that infections in the mouth caused by periodontal disease are associated with increased respiratory infection. Recent studies suggest that people with periodontal disease may have nearly twice the risk of having a fatal heart attack as those without periodontal disease.
Signs of Periodontal Disease
- Bleeding gums during brushing
- Red, swollen or tender gums
- Persistent bad breath
- Loose or separating teeth
- Gums that have been pulled away from the teeth