Signs, causes, diagnosis, prevention and treatment
Periodontal (Gum) disease is an infection of the tissues supporting and surrounding the teeth. It is mainly caused by the accumulation of bacteria from the dental plaque that inflames and damages the gums. This chronic infection attacks below the gum line where it breaks down the attachment of the tooth and its supporting tissues.
Several factors increase the risk of developing gum diseases, the most common of which include tobacco smoking and chewing, systemic illnesses like diabetes or cancer, hormonal changes during pregnancy and menstruation, medications such as contraceptives and anticonvulsants, ill-fitting bridges and fillings that have become defective.
Regular dental check-ups and examinations are important because it is possible to have gum infections without the usual signs and symptoms. They may advance painlessly, exhibiting few evident signs even in the late phase of the disease. This explains the increased risk of losing one’s teeth.
Various indicators may point to some form of gum disease. Symptoms may include red, swollen and tender gums, pus and pockets between gums and teeth, receding gums, gums that bleed during or after brushing, flossing or eating hard food, loose, shifting or separating teeth, bad breath and persistent bad metallic taste in mouth, mouth sores, changes in the fit of dentures and the way the teeth fit during bites.
Periodontal diseases are classified according to the severity of the infection and are traditionally divided into two stages: Gingivitis and Periodontitis.