Periodontal disease, commonly called Gum Disease, is an infection of the structures around the teeth. “Peri” means around and “odontal” refers to the teeth. These structures include the gums, cementum that covers the root, the periodontal ligament and the alveolar bone which holds the teeth in place. These structures are destroyed by the disease and this results in loose teeth and eventual tooth loss. In the earliest stages of periodontal disease, Gingivitis, the infection only affects the gums. In the more severe form of the disease, all the supporting tissues are involved.
Swollen and bleeding gums are the early signs that you have gum disease. If your hands bled when you washed them you would be very concerned. Yet many people think it is normal for gums to bleed. If your gums bleed you urgently need to attend your dentist. If periodontal disease is ignored your teeth will eventually fall out.
Q. What causes Periodontal Disease?
A. Certain types of bacteria together with your bodies immune response to these bacteria.
Q. What else contributes to Periodontal Disease?
- Genetics – Periodontal Disease is seen in families
- Smoking – tobacco use increases the risk
- Misaligned or crowded teeth
- Tooth grinding (Bruxism)
- Hormonal changes e.g. puberty, pregnancy
- Medication e.g. Phenytoin, cyclosporin, nifedipine
- Diseases e.g. diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, HIV
- Poor Nutrition
Q. Does Periodontal Disease cause any other health issues?
A. Research is ongoing but it believe that there is a link between Periodontal Disease and:
- Heart Disease / Atherosclerosis
- Premature Birth
- Respiratory Disease
Please feel free to question Dr. O’ Beirne about your periodontal health.