Periodontal Disease (Gum Disease)
Periodontal disease is characterized by inflammation or degeneration of the tissues that surround and support the teeth--gingiva (gums), the bone the teeth are set in (alveolar bone), the periodontal ligament, and the cementum (the tissue that connects these structures).
Types: The most common and often initial form of periodontal disease is inflammation of the gums, called gingivitis. If left untreated, gingivitis can spread, causing increased inflammation in the membranes and tissues around the base of the teeth and potential erosion of the underlying bone a conditions known as periodontitis that is the major cause of bone loss in adults.
The most common symptoms of periodontal disease is red, inflamed gum tissue that bleeds easily due to flossing, brushing the teeth, and/or eating hard foods such as raw apples.
Periodontal disease is primarily due to poor dental hygiene (lack of teeth brushing and flossing) leading to a buildup of bacterial plaque. In can also occur during pregnancy and puberty, due to hormonal factors, and/or be due to nutritional deficiencies, especially vitamin C, folic acid and other B vitamins, and calcium.
Additional risk factors include problems with the biting surface (malocclusion), breathing through the mouth, food impaction, decreased tissue in and around the gums due to plaque buildup, and poor diet. It can also be caused by hydrochloric acid deficiency. Smoking and the use of birth control pills can also play roles.
Caution: Gingivitis may be one of the first signs that there is an underlying systemic problem or debilitating diseases such as diabetes or leukemia, heavy metal toxicity, lowered resistance, allergies, or vitamin deficiencies. In addition, the bacteria associated with periodontal disease has been shown to migrate through the body, creating a burden on the cardiovascular system and contributing to heart disease.