What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease or periodontal disease, a chronic inflammation and infection of the gums and surrounding tissue, is the major cause of 70% of adult tooth loss. Gum disease affects three out of four people at some point in their life.

What causes gum disease?

Bacterial plaque – a sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on the teeth – is recognized as the primary cause of gum disease. If plaque isn’t removed each day by brushing and flossing, it hardens into a rough, porous substance called calculus (also known as tarter). Toxins (poisons) produced and released by bacteria in plaque irritate the gums. These toxins cause the breakdown of the fibers that hold the gums tightly to the teeth, creating periodontal pockets which fill with even more toxins and bacteria. As the disease progresses, pockets extend deeper and the bacteria moves down until the bone that holds the tooth in place is destroyed. The tooth will eventually fall out or require extraction.

What are the warning signs of gum disease?

Signs include red, swollen or tender gums, bleeding while brushing or flossing, gums that pull away from teeth, loose or separating teeth, persistent bad breath, change in the way teeth fit together when the patient bites, and a change in the fit of partial dentures. While patients are advised to check for the warning signs, there might not be any discomfort until the disease has spread to a point where the tooth is unsalvageable. That’s why patients are advised to get frequent dental exams.

How to prevent gum disease?

Removing plaque through daily brushing, flossing and professional cleaning is the best way to minimize your risk. Dr. Huber can design a personalized program to meet your needs.