The Nature of Periodontal Disease
Despite the fact that it affects significantly more than half of the adult population, not many people could explain the details of how and why periodontal disease develops. Likewise, they also might not realize how serious the condition can be for their overall health, as well as their teeth and gums, if not treated immediately.
What causes periodontal disease?
Every day, hundreds of kinds of bacteria that dwell in your mouth band together to form plaque. When some of these microbes accumulate along your gum line, they can irritate the sensitive tissues, and eventually lead to an infection that causes rampant inflammation and bleeding. While that sounds dramatic, the beginning stages of periodontal disease (known as gingivitis) do not at first appear severe. Bleeding will be minimal and occasional, limited mostly to when you brush and floss, and there is usually no sensitivity in your gums until the condition progresses.
Is it true that periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss?
If ignored, gingivitis will quickly mature into gum disease, at which point inflammation and infection have begun to irreversibly destroy your gum tissues, and may have also begun to erode the underlying jawbone. As the protective shield that covers and supports your teeth’s roots and their supportive jawbone structure, healthy gums are an essential part of tooth retention. Because periodontal disease is often untreated until its later stages, patients are often left without enough periodontal and jawbone support by the time they receive adequate care, making periodontal disease the most common reason behind permanent tooth loss.
If inflammation is uncontrolled, can it affect my systemic health?
Under normal circumstances, inflammation is one of your immune system’s most potent defensive mechanisms, driving out harmful microorganisms and fighting off tissue infections. However, when certain factors cause inflammation to run rampant, it can lead to a number of different health conditions, depending on the location of the inflamed tissue. In the case of gum disease, the oral bacteria, Porphyromonas gingivalis, manipulate your immune system, affecting its ability to control inflammation. If your gums, or any other oral tissues, begin to bleed, then P. gingivalis may be granted access to your bloodstream. As they travel throughout your body, the microbes can significantly increase your risks of inflammation-related conditions, such as heart disease, making timely periodontal treatment all the more important.