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Beneath the Surface: The Dangers of Periodontal Disease

After a hot pizza and a couple of sugary sodas, the inside of your mouth can be a pretty unpleasant place, but even that kind of day is no match for periodontal disease. This insidious condition affects the gums and other tissues around your teeth. Left untreated, it can lead to tooth and bone loss, both things you don’t really want to spare!

The very best treatment for periodontal disease is prevention, which is why it’s important to see your dentist regularly.

What Causes Periodontal Disease?

Plaque, that sticky film that forms around your teeth, is the leading cause of periodontal disease. The longer that plaque sticks around, the more it irritates your gums, causing inflammation. The more plaque, the more inflammation, the more opportunities for bacteria to take up residence in the growing pockets in your gums. Eventually, those bacteria multiply enough to cause infection. It’s a nasty cycle.

Bacteria aside, plaque also hardens on your teeth, becoming tartar and calculus. Tartar, calculus, pockets full of bacteria (gross!) and gum infection can all cause pain and damage to your teeth, as well as the structures that hold them in place.

How Can I Tell if I Have Periodontal Disease?

Your dentist can easily determine if you have periodontal disease, and, more importantly, how bad the situation is. The sooner you get in to see your friendly neighborhood dentist, the sooner you can start treatment if you are afflicted (or breathe a sigh of relief if you’re not).

These questions should help you decide how quickly you need to be seen. If you answer “yes” to any of them, there’s a chance you are already suffering from periodontal disease.

Your dentist will be able to tell for sure if your problems are related to periodontal disease with the help of a periodontal probe. This nifty tool can measures how deep the pockets around your teeth are and if further treatment is warranted. Your dentist will also check the color of the gum tissue and check for bone loss with x-rays.

What Happens If I Have Periodontal Disease?

The good news is that there are a few stages of periodontal disease, some that are completely reversible with improved oral hygiene. These stages go something like this:

Tips for Preventing or Slowing Periodontal Disease

As with most types of oral disease, the very best thing you can do to avoid periodontal disease is brush and floss your teeth often. That means at least twice a day for brushing (two minutes, please) and daily flossing between every tooth. But that’s not all, here are a few other ideas to help you avoid periodontal disease:

Treating periodontal disease isn’t the most fun you’ll ever have in the dental chair, so it’s much better to avoid it if you can. Regular brushing, flossing and dental checkups can help you keep any damage minimal and provide your dentist with the information they need to catch signs of disease early.

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