The word "periodontal" means "around the tooth." Periodontal Disease (also known as "gum disease," "pyorrhea," or "periodontal infection") is an ongoing bacterial infection in the gums and bone around your teeth. This infection leads to an inflammation under the gums. If it isn't treated, the inflammation can destroy the bone around your teeth resulting in tooth loss.
More importantly, research has associated periodontal infection with several serious medical problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
As ongoing research continues to define how periodontal disease is associated with these and other health problems, good oral health is essential. Good periodontal health is a key component of a healthy body.
When you were a child, did you ever get a bad scrape that became red and swollen? That was caused by bacteria that got under your skin. The area became infected and inflamed. It may have lasted for days or weeks, but eventually, the inflammation went away. The inflammation disappeared when your immune system conquered the bacteria and the infection healed.
With an ongoing infection, your immune system never wins the battle; the infection keeps growing, and the inflammation never goes away. Periodontal disease is an ongoing infection in the pockets around your teeth: Your immune system cannot conquer the bacteria, and without treatment, it will get worse.
People with periodontal disease have a low resistance to periodontal bacteria. This causes an ongoing gum infection that grows in "bursts" of activity. Each time it grows, more support for your teeth is lost. Some factors that can cause a "burst" of activity are:
Periodontal infection is usually painless until it reaches an advanced stage. However, there are some symptoms that can indicate the presence of periodontal infection.
A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in preventing, diagnosing, and treating periodontal disease. Many periodontists have also taken advanced training in the placement of dental implants. Periodontists receive extensive training in these areas, including three additional years of education beyond dental school. Periodontics is one of the eight specialties recognized by the American Dental Association.