11/05/2012  |  
What Is Periodontal Disease?

You probably know that with proper care, your teeth can last a lifetime. But did you know that decay isn't your teeth's only enemy? Periodontal disease, which is caused by bacteria that attack your gums, can result in inflammation, bone loss, and eventually the loss of teeth. Plus, the symptoms of this disease aren't always easy for the lay person to recognize — so you may not even know you have it, particularly if you smoke.

What are some possible symptoms of periodontal disease you may notice? One is bad breath, which often results from sulfur-containing compounds produced by harmful bacteria. Bleeding gums should also be considered a warning sign — contrary to rumor, they aren't caused by brushing too hard. Redness, swelling, or sensitivity of the gums — along with receding gums or loose teeth — may also be telltale signs of the disease.

Nearly everyone who doesn't practice good daily oral hygiene will eventually develop gingivitis, the first stage in periodontal disease. So if you need another reason to keep brushing and flossing regularly... this is it! It's also important to visit your dentist for regular dental examinations and cleanings, particularly if you may be genetically prone to the disease. However, if you do develop periodontal disease, don't worry — there are a number of effective treatments. Learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Understanding Gum Disease.”

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