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Periodontitis occurs when pathogenic bacteria attack the supporting tissues of the teeth, leading to bone loss.

Periodontitis is an infection of the supporting tissues of the teeth. The milder form, gingivitis, is an inflammation of the gums that is reversible, although it may lead to the more aggressive disease, periodontitis. Periodontitis occurs when pathogenic bacteria attack the supporting tissues of the teeth, leading to bone loss. This will eventually cause the teeth to become loose, drift and fall out. Diagnosis involves measuring the distance between the top of the gum and where it meets the tooth. This is called a periodontal pocket and a deep pocket signifies bone loss and/or inflammation.

The good news is that the primary factor that causes periodontitis is plaque (the white sticky stuff that gets on your teeth if you don't brush them for a while). Therefore, regular cleanings and good home care can slow down or stop periodontitis. Other factors that can make you more susceptible to periodontal disease are:

  • Tobacco smoking or chewing
  • Systemic diseases such as diabetes
  • Some types of medication such as steroids, some types of anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, some calcium channel blockers, and oral contraceptives
  • Bridges that no longer fit properly
  • Crooked teeth
  • Fillings that have become defective
  • Pregnancy or use of oral contraceptives

Often chronic periodontitis does not show any symptoms (such as pain) until those last stages when it is too late to save the teeth. There are some signs to watch out for, such as a bad taste in your mouth, red, swollen and bleeding gums, loose teeth or moving teeth, etc.

Of course, the best way to diagnose a problem is to see your dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings. If periodontal disease is diagnosed, there are several treatments we may use. These include, but are not limited to, 3-6 months cleanings, surgical procedures, antibacterial products, and the use of special cleaning instruments.

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