Q:

How do you get periodontal disease?

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Quick Answer

Periodontal disease occurs when plaque, a mix of bacterial film and mucus, is left on teeth long enough to harden into tartar, which irritates the gums and other surrounding tissues, explains the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This tartar can build up below the gum line, which makes it difficult to remove. The tartar makes the gums and the bone surrounding the teeth vulnerable to inflammation and infection.

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Full Answer

Periodontal disease includes gingivitis, which is an inflammation of the gums, and periodontitis, which involves the gums shrinking away from the teeth and possible bone loss, the CDC reports. Symptoms can include a persistent bad taste in the mouth, bleeding and tender gums, loose teeth and changes to the way teeth fit together while biting. Other possible symptoms include frequent bad breath, swollen gums and sensitive teeth. Genetics, smoking, diabetes, stress and poor oral hygiene can all contribute to the development of periodontal disease.

The main treatment for periodontal disease is regular and thorough oral hygiene and professional cleanings, states the CDC. This cleaning can include a deep cleaning of the tooth root surfaces. In some cases, the treatment of periodontal disease requires surgery. Oral medications and medications placed under the gums are also sometimes helpful.

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