What is Periodontal Disease?

The bacteria in plaque, a sticky film that constantly forms on teeth if not removed by daily brushing and flossing, produces toxins that irritate the gums and lead to gum inflammation, called gingivitis. Gums become red, swollen and tender, or even bleed when brushing the teeth. In some cases, however, no noticeable symptoms are experienced.

Periodontal disease may develop if gingivitis is left untreated because the inflammation gradually destroys the tissues surrounding the teeth as well as the jawbone that supports them. Left untreated, teeth may loosen and fall out or need to be extracted.

In a 2010 study of the prevalence of periodontal disease in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control found that nearly half of American adults over the age of thirty have mild, moderate, or severe periodontal disease.

Not only is periodontal disease a major cause of tooth loss in adults, but there is also evidence that advanced periodontal disease, if left untreated, contributes to other health problems including stroke, heart attack, and diabetes.

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