Robert A Foster, Jr
Family and Cosmetic Dentistry
1230 Johnson Ferry Place
Marietta, GA 30068
Periodontal (gum disease) is an acute or chronic infectious process affecting the tissues surrounding the teeth. This includes the gums and the fibrous attachments which buttress the teeth and supporting bone. Gone unchecked, periodontal disease can result in bone loss and eventual loose teeth and tooth loss. It is often associated with systemic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
Periodontal disease is usually a slow, painless and progressive process. Most adults with periodontal disease are unaware they have it. If diagnosed and treated early, however, the teeth can be saved.
The primary cause of periodontal disease is the accumulation of bacterial plaque at and under the gum line. Plaque is an often colorless mass of bacteria and food debris that sticks to teeth, dental crowns, dental bridges and other tissues in the oral cavity. Plaque is constantly forming on the teeth and must be removed regularly to maintain dental and periodontal health. Inadequate oral hygiene results in irritation of the gums, causing them to become red, tender, and swollen.
Over time, plaque combines with natural minerals in the mouth forming calculus (tartar). This adheres to the teeth and forms a rough surface on the teeth and roots, allowing for even more plaque accumulation. Calculus of itself does not cause the deterioration of the periodontal attachment. Rather, it creates an environment for the further colonization of bacterial plaque on the irregular root surfaces. The bacteria initiate and perpetuate the inflammatory process that causes periodontal disease.
For information about gum disease see Types of periodontal disease