What You Should Know About Gum Disease

What is Gum Disease?

Periodontal diseases are (usually silent) infections of your gums that gradually destroy the support of your natural teeth. Periodontal disease affects one or more of the periodontal tissues (the tissues around your teeth): alveolar bone, periodontal ligament, cementum, or gingiva (gum tissue). While there are many diseases that affect the tooth-supporting structures, plaque-induced inflammatory lesions make up most periodontal issues and are divided into two categories: gingivitis and periodontitis. While gingivitis, the less serious of the diseases, may never progress into periodontitis, it always precedes periodontitis.


Dental plaque is the primary cause of gingivitis in genetically susceptible individuals. Plaque is a sticky colorless film, composed primarily of food particles and various types of bacteria, which adhere to your teeth at and below the gum line. Plaque constantly forms on your teeth, even minutes after cleaning. Bacteria found in plaque produce toxins or poisons that irritate the gums. Gums may become inflamed, red, swollen, and bleed easily. If this irritation is prolonged, the gums separate from the teeth causing pockets (spaces) to form. If daily brushing and flossing are neglected, plaque can also harden into a rough, porous substance known as calculus (or tartar). This can occur both above and below the gum line.


If gingivitis progresses into periodontitis, the supporting gum tissue and bone that holds teeth in place deteriorates. The progressive loss of this bone, the alveolar, can lead to loosening and subsequent loss of teeth. Periodontitis is affected by bacteria that adhere to the tooth’s surface, along with an overly aggressive immune response to these bacteria.

Periodontal disease is dangerous:

  • It is often painless and symptomless.
  • Eighty percent of Americans will be afflicted with periodontal disease by age 45.
  • 4 out of 5 patients with the disease are unaware they have it.
  • It relates to your immune system- Healthy mouth – healthier body. This is more important now than ever before – with the thread of COVID and other ailments.

What should you do?

  • Visit our office (your periodontist) regularly to set up a periodontal maintenance program
  • Proper oral hygiene- homecare, routinely brushing, and flossing at a minimum.

This is all about keeping your teeth for a lifetime. Retaining your teeth is directly dependent on proper periodontal care and maintenance. Healthy gums enhance the appearance of your teeth, like a frame around a beautiful painting. When your gums become unhealthy, they can either recede or become swollen and red. In later stages, the supporting bone is destroyed, and your teeth will shift, loosen, or fall out. These changes not only affect your ability to chew and speak. They also diminish the look of your smile.

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