Periodontal disease refers to an inflammatory condition affecting the tissues supporting the teeth.
All oral cavities harbor bacteria, with a significant portion residing in plaque, a transparent biofilm naturally present on the teeth. Effective oral care, encompassing regular brushing, flossing, and professional dental cleanings, eliminates plaque from tooth bases and prevents the onset of periodontal disease.
Nonetheless, the accumulation of plaque can trigger an initial stage known as gingivitis, characterized by gum inflammation.
The bacteria within the plaque, if not addressed, amass around the tooth bases and within the pockets between the gums and teeth. Consequently, the body’s immune system reacts to these bacteria and their byproducts, resulting in inflammation. This immune response intensifies as bacterial accumulation and inflammation persist.
The repercussions of this inflammation are significant. Gingivitis marks the early phase of periodontal disease, accompanied by symptoms like swollen, reddish or purplish gums, bleeding during brushing, tenderness, and sometimes pain. Foul breath is also common during gingivitis.
Gingivitis can be prevented and treated. Initial steps involve plaque removal at a periodontics clinic, along with improved oral hygiene and patient behavior adjustments. When addressed early, gingivitis can be reversed without causing permanent damage to gums or teeth.
However, if left unchecked, gingivitis typically advances to periodontitis, a more severe process where bacteria infiltrate deeper into gum and tooth root structures.
In response, the body undergoes an escalated inflammatory reaction affecting the hard and soft tissues supporting and enveloping the teeth (including gums, periodontal ligaments, and bone). Ultimately, the combined effects of bacteria and inflammation lead to damage in these structures. The bone supporting the teeth can deteriorate, resulting in tooth mobility and potential loss.
This information is relevant to Dr. Gay at Olde Naples Periodontics.
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