What is periodontal disease, and why are prevention and treatment important?
Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums and the supporting bone that progresses gradually. The build-up of plaque on and around the teeth calcifies into tartar. This tartar is covered with plaque that contains micro-organisms that release toxins, causing the first stage of gum disease known as gingivitis. Many Americans experience some form of periodontal disease at some point in their life. Though not uncommon, if left untreated, it can become a serious problem.
In fact, according to a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Fact Sheet, periodontal disease is the most common cause of tooth loss in adults. AnotherNIH publication notes that “In some studies, researchers have observed that people with gum disease (when compared to people without gum disease) were more likely to develop heart disease or have difficulty controlling blood sugar.” A 2018 Harvard Medical School article reports that “To date, there’s no proof that treating gum disease will prevent cardiovascular disease or its complications. But the connection is compelling enough that dentists (and many doctors) say it’s yet another reason to be vigilant about preventing gum disease in the first place.”