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What is Gum Disease, or Periodontal Infection?

Periodontal Disease (also known as "Periodontal Infection", "Gum Disease" or Pyorrhea") is an ongoing bacterial infection in the gums and bone which support your teeth. If not treated, this ongoing infection can destroy the bone around your teeth resulting in tooth loss. 75% of all adult tooth loss is due to Periodontal Infection.

How Does An "Ongoing Infection" Work?

When you were a child, did you ever get a bad scrape that got all red and swollen? That was bacteria that got under your skin and caused an infection. It may have lasted for days or weeks. Finally your immune system conquered the bad bacteria and the infection healed.

With an ONGOING infection, your immune system never wins the battle and the infection grows. Periodontal Disease is an ongoing infection in the pockets around your teeth. Your immune system is losing the battle and, without tratement, it will get worse.

What Can Cause a "Burst" of Infection Activity?

People with Periodontal Disease have low resistance to periodontal bacteria. This causes a continuing gum infection with grows in "bursts" of activity. Each time it grows, more support for your teeth is lost. Some factors which can cause a "burst" of activity are:

1. Poor Oral Hygiene.
2. Dental Plaque.
3. Smoking.
4. Genetic Factors.
5. Stress or Tension.
6. Diet.
7. Age.
8. Illness

Getting Periodontal Infection Treated Right Away

When your infection has a burst of activity, or when there are signs that this is about to occur, your general dentist may recommend you see a periodontist.

Symptoms of Periodontal Infection

Usually Periodontal Infection is painless until it reaches more advanced stages. However there are some symptoms which can indicate the presence of Periodontal Infection.

These include:

1. Red or swollen gums
2. Bleeding when brushing (pink toothbrush) or at other times
3. Aching, itchy, sore or tender gums
4. Receding gums (teeth beginning to look longer)
5. Bad breath
6. Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
7. Loose, separating or protruding teeth
8. Spaces between teeth 

If you notice any of the above warning signs of periodontal infection, please contact your general dentist and ask for a periodontal evaluation.

Important Note: Your gums can look quite normal and yet deep pockets of periodontal infection can be present. To be certain about periodontal disease, ask your dentist or periodontist to examine your gums for signs of infection.

Who is a Periodontist?

Your General Dentist is trained to detect and treat the early stages of Periodontal Disease. A Periodontist is a dentist with advanced training in the diagnosis and treatment of Periodontal Disease. They also perform other periodontal treatments, such as; crown lengthening and dental implants. Periodontics is one of 8 specialties recognized by the American Dental Association.

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