March 10, 2010
Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection that affects the gums and bone supporting the teeth. It begins when bacteria in plaque a sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on your teeth) causes gums to become inflamed.
On its Website, www.perio.org, The American Academy of Periodontology clears up some incorrect beliefs about gum disease:
Fallacy: Tooth loss is a natural part of aging.
Fact: With good oral hygiene and regular professional care, teeth can last a lifetime. Left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss> it's the primary cause of tooth loss in adults ages 35 and over.
Fallacy: disease doesn't affect overall health.
Fact: Research links periodontal disease to health problems that include heart and respiratory diseases; preterm, low birth-weight babies; stroke; osteoporosis; and diabetes.
Fallacy: Gum disease is a minor infection.
Fact: Gum disease is not a small infection. Its result, tooth loss, can lead to dentures, causing dramatic changes in your appearance, breath, and ability to chew food.
Fallacy: Bleeding gums are normal.
Fact: Bleeding gums are one of nine warning signs of gum disease. Other signs: red, swollen or tender gums; sores in your mouth; gums that have pulled away from the teeth; persistent bad breath; pus between the teeth and gums (leaving bad breath); loose or separating teeth; a change in the way the teeth fit together; and a change in the fit of partial dentures.
Fallacy: Treatment for gum disease is painful.
Fact: Procedures including local anesthesia and over-the-counter medications can keep you comfortable during treatment.
Fallacy: Cavities are the No. 1 cause of tooth loss.
Fact: Periodontal disease is No. 1.
Fallacy: Pregnant women should skip dental checkups.
Fact: Pregnancy impacts teeth and gums just like other tissues in the body. Pregnant women should schedule an appointment for a periodontal evaluation to decrease the risk of damaging the gums and tissues around their teeth.