Periodontal (Gum) Disease
Periodontal (Gum) Disease Facts
- Periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory disease that destroys bone and gum tissues that support the teeth.
- Periodontal disease affects many Americans and is the major cause of adult tooth loss.
- Teeth are supported by the gums, or gingiva and bone.
- A tooth's root is anchored to the bone within its socket by fibers called periodontal ligaments.
- The gums do not attach to the teeth as firmly as one might think. A shallow, V-shaped gap called a sulcus exists between the teeth and the gums. Periodontal disease affects this gap and more.
- Eventually, in periodontal disease, the tissues supporting the tooth break down.
- If only the superficial gums are involved in this breakdown, the disease is referred to as gingivitis. If it is more advanced and involves the connecting tissues and bone, then it is called periodontitis.
Periodontal (Gum) Disease Causes
Plaque is a sticky
film of bacteria that clings to the surface of teeth and gums. Brushing and
flossing every day may not completely remove all the plaque, especially around
the gum line. The bacteria in the plaque produce toxins that may injure the gums and supporting tissues.
Plaque that is not completely removed within 48 hours hardens into a rough deposit called tartar or calculus. Once tartar
develops, the only way to remove it is by having the teeth professionally
cleaned. Tartar below the gum line causes inflammation and infection. Because this process is often painless, a person may be unaware a problem exists.
Causes or factors that worsen gum disease include the following:
- Inherited factors (genetics)
- Infrequent dental care
- Insufficient calcium intake
- Inflammatory response by the body occurs that creates further problems.
- Because of a dulled immune response and
less oxygen in the mouth, smokers are two to seven times more likely to develop periodontitis than nonsmokers.
- Diabetes worsens periodontal disease. If a person's blood sugar level is poorly controlled, a worse infection, poor healing, and a greater loss of bone and connective tissue are likely.
- Sjögren's syndrome causes decreased saliva production that can lead to periodontal disease.
- Stress increases certain hormones that make a person more susceptible to infection. Pregnancy and birth control pills
can also increase hormone levels.
- Steroids, antiseizure medicines, cancer medicines, and
blood pressure medicines can all affect the gums. Some drugs decrease the flow of saliva, irritating the mouth and making it prone to infection.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/31/2016
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