Periodontal diseases are ongoing infections of the gums that gradually destroy the support of your natural teeth. Periodontal disease affects one or more of the periodontal tissues: alveolar bone, periodontal ligament, cementum, or gingiva. While there are many diseases which affect the tooth-supporting structures, plaque-induced inflammatory lesions make up the majority of periodontal issues and are divided into two categories: gingivitis and periodontitis. While gingivitis, the less serious of the diseases, may never progress into periodontitis, it always precedes periodontitis.
Dental plaque is the primary cause of gingivitis. It adheres to your teeth and below the gum line. Plaque constantly forms on your teeth. Bacteria found in plaque produce toxins or poisons that irritate the gums. Gums may become inflamed, red, swollen, and bleed easily. If this irritation is prolonged, the gums separate from the teeth causing pockets (spaces) to form. Plaque can also harden into a rough, tenacious substance known as calculus (or tartar). Gingivitis progresses into periodontitis, where the supporting gum tissue and bone deteriorates. This can lead to tooth loss and a loss of function.
You should see a periodontist if:
Experience bleeding with brushing or flossing
Bad breath – this can be a sign of periodontal disease