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What is Periodontal Disease

Periodontal Disease is a general term for diseases of the gum and bone that holds the teeth in.  Like diabetes or high blood pressure, you can have Periodontal Disease and not know it.  Although there are several types of Periodontal Disease, the most common two are Gingivitis-infection of the gums, and Periodontitis-infection of the bone.  The usual course of these diseases are that one gets Gingivitis at a relatively early age and if not treated, the infection can get into the bone and it destroys the bone that holds the teeth in causing loss of teeth.

What causes Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal Disease is caused by germs that we all naturally have in our mouths.  The germs multiply and form a film on the teeth at, and just under the gum lines, that we call plaque.  If the plaque is not removed every day by brushing and flossing with exactly the correct technique, then the germs and their toxins cause Gingivitis and eventually Periodontitis. 

Is Periodontal Disease harmful?
Other than losing your teeth, Periodontal Disease has been linked to premature births, diabetes, heart disease, and pancreatic cancer. 

How do I know if I have it?
If after you brush your gums, right where they meet the teeth, and floss so that the floss bumps your gums, and you see bleeding, then that shows that you have Gingivitis.  Bleeding to brushing and flossing is not normal but most people do not brush their teeth at their gum lines and so they see little or no bleeding after brushing, even when they have Gingivitis. In order to tell if you have lost any bone around your teeth, your dentist or hygienist has to take x-rays to look at the bone and do what is called a Periodontal Examination in which they measure the bone around each tooth. Your hygienist should be doing a Periodontal Examination for you once a year.  

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