Periodontal disease is an inflammation of the gums that, if severe, can lead to the loss of the tissues that hold your teeth in place. It is caused by plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that forms constantly on teeth. Because early periodontal disease is painless and shows few symptoms, patients are often unaware that there is a problem. For this reason, regular dental visits are essential for the early diagnosis and treatment of gum disease.
Gingivitis and Periodontitis
There are various stages to periodontal disease—from gingivitis (early stage) to periodontitis (advanced disease). Red and swollen gums that bleed easily are a sign of gingivitis. At this early stage, the disease may be reversed with a professional cleaning and more regular daily care at home. During the cleaning, the dentist or dental hygienist will use a special tool to scrape the hardened calculus and plaque from along and beneath your gum line. More advanced forms of the disease require cleanings that go more deeply below the gum line. Sometimes, the dentist will refer you to a specialist called a periodontist for these cleanings.