Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is an infection of the tissues that surround the teeth, according to MouthHealthy.org. This disease starts with bacterial growth in the mouth, and if left untreated, it can lead to tooth loss, states WebMD.
Plaque is the main cause of periodontal disease, according to WebMD. However, additional factors can also increase a person’s chances of developing periodontal disease. Hormonal changes, medications, illness, poor oral hygiene, genetics and smoking are all contributing factors.
The early stages of gum disease are known as gingivitis, according to MouthHealthy.org. During this stage of the disease, the gums may be red, sensitive, swollen and bleed during brushing. Other symptoms may include persistent bad breath, separating teeth or a change in bite. This early stage of the disease is typically treatable, and those experiencing these symptoms should visit a dentist right away.
A dentist can treat more advanced stages of the disease either with anti-inflammatory and antibacterial treatments or with surgery in more severe cases, states WebMD. The primary way to prevent the onset of periodontal disease, reduce the impact of periodontal disease and prevent the condition from worsening is with proper plaque control. This includes professional cleanings twice a year, daily brushing and flossing, and the use of an antibacterial mouth rinse.