Periodontal disease is a highly common affliction. So much so that 4 out of 5 people actually have it and don’t know it. The word “periodontal” means “around the tooth,” and it’s an apt description. The disease attacks the gums and the bone that supports the teeth.

The main reason for the disease is plaque. As you may know, plaque is a film consisting of bacteria, food, and saliva that sticks to teeth and gums. If it’s not removed, the plaque will transform into tartar. Left alone, plaque and tartar will start to destroy gums and bone.

While periodontal disease is not only the primary reason for tooth loss, research suggests a potential link between the disease and other conditions like strokes, bacterial pneumonia, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and increased risk during pregnancy. Researchers are trying to determine if the bacteria and inflammation associated with the disease have an effect on these conditions. Smoking can also boost the risk of periodontal disease.

A few of the signs and symptoms of periodontal disease are:

  • Bleeding gums: Gums should never bleed, even when flossing or brushing vigorously.
  • Loose teeth: Also caused by bone loss or weakened periodontal fibers.
  • New spacing between teeth: Caused by bone loss.
  • Persistent bad breath: Caused by bacteria.
  • Pus around teeth and gums: Sign of an infection.
  • Receding gums: Loss of gum around a tooth.
  • Red and puffy gums: Gums should never be red or swollen.
  • Tenderness/discomfort: Caused by irritation of the teeth by plaque, bacteria and tartar.

If you’re looking to reduce your risk of periodontal disease, good oral hygiene, regular dental visits and a balanced diet will all help.