Nearly everyone has heard of gum disease, but many patients are not aware of the symptoms or how it impacts both their oral and their overall health. Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is the leading cause of tooth loss according to the American Academy of Periodontology. As a result, it is important to know about periodontal disease and to recognize the warning signs so you can seek treatment and avoid tooth or tissue loss.

Periodontal disease begins with poor oral hygiene. When patients do not brush their teeth frequently or thoroughly enough, or when they do not floss their teeth regularly, harmful bacteria can grow in the mouth. These bacteria mix with food particles and white blood cells to form plaque. The gums may begin to become inflamed and bleed when you brush your teeth. This condition is called gingivitis, and it can be remedied with better oral care at home.

If you do not take steps to bush and floss your teeth frequently and thoroughly, the gingivitis will likely progress to periodontitis. Periodontitis occurs when the plaque spreads below the gum line, irritating the gums and causing them to pull away from the teeth and form deep pockets underneath the roots. Over time, the teeth may begin to loosen and fall out and gum tissue as well as bone can be lost. The only way to fix this condition is by a professional cleaning, which may include a root scaling and planing to remove the plaque from under the gum line. In addition, dental implants or bridges may be needed to replace the lost teeth, and gum and bone grafts may be necessary to replace the lost tissue and bone. In some cases, pocket reduction surgery is also necessary to reduce the size of the pockets under the teeth.

The best way to treat periodontal disease is to prevent it. Brush your teeth twice a day as well as after consuming sugary foods or beverages, and floss at least once per day. Removing sugar from your mouth takes away the fuel the bacteria depend on to grow, as well as rinses away some of the bacteria. In addition, have your teeth professionally cleaned and examined at least once per year, or as often as your Beverly Hills periodontist recommends for your age and the state of your oral health.

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