WHAT IS PERIODONTAL DISEASE?
Periodontal disease is an inflammatory disorder, of a chronic infectious origin, that affects not only gums, but all the supporting structure of the tooth, i.e. periodontal ligament, root cementum and alveolar bone.
It is called a “silent disease” as few symptoms are seen on the gum and it may advance without presenting any pain, and therefore the patient does not visit a dentist. Therefore we insist that routine visits to the dentist are a must, as the periodontist can diagnose it at an early stage during a routine check-up appointment.
We know that this disease goes through several phases, the first one being gingivitis (inflamed gums), which is a reversible process If treated timely. The speed at which it advances, though, can vary greatly from one patient to another, and even in the same patient there may be periods where the disease progresses very slowly and other times when it pushes advancing very fast.
In some cases gingivitis may evolve to some of the forms of periodontitis, and this implies an initial compromise of the tooth-supporting structure. This is why an early diagnosis is so important, so that the progression of the lesion may be stopped.
Tartar and microbial plaque, or dental biofilm, are the main culprits of this disease, although there are predisposing risk factors favouring its onset and development, like smoking, diabetes, stress and heredity. Hormonal changes, that may occur during pregnancy and menopause, and that also have an effect on the gums, may also favour it.