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What is periodontal disease?

Published in 12 of August, 2014

Periodontal disease is caused by plaque, which is a layer of yellowish bacteria that forms on the surface of the teeth. If it is not removed daily, plaque mixes with dietary carbohydrates to form acids and other debris in the mouth.

Plaque irritates the gums, causing them to swell and turn red, which makes them bleed easily. If this is not removed, it hardens and tartar is formed around the necks of the teeth. The plaque causes the gums to move towards the root of the tooth, progressively destroying the dental bone, causing tooth mobility which progresses to loss of the teeth.

Periodontal disease is usually slow, asymptomatic (can’t be felt and painless) and progressive. It predominates in adults and early diagnosis can save your teeth.

When periodontitis is not treated, the bones, gums and tissues that support the teeth are destroyed. The teeth eventually become loose and have to be removed, or worse yet, fall off by themselves.

Risk factors for periodontal disease

  • Tobacco: one of the most significant risk factors which, if consumed, also hinders the efficiency of the treatment for this disease.
  • Poor hygiene: Poor brushing, not flossing and rare replacement of the toothbrush.
  • Hormonal changes in girls/women: these changes can make gums more sensitive and facilitate the development of gingivitis.
  • Diabetes: Diabetics are more likely to develop infections.
  • Stress: research has shown that it is a cause for people who suffer from reduced ability to fight against infections.
  • Drugs: some decrease the production of saliva, such as antidepressants or the ones perscribed for certain heart conditions.
  • Diseases: Some diseases and their treatment harm the health of the gums.
  • Genetic predisposition: some people are more prone to severe periodontal disease.

Symptoms of periodontal disease

  • Constant bad breath
  • Swollen, red or bleeding gums
  • Receding gums
  • Pain while chewing
  • Loose teeth
  • Sensitive teeth, especially to cold

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