College of Dentistry Patient Care: Periodontitis

If you do not remove the harmful bacteria from the small crevice between your gums and teeth, they may eventually spread along the root surface and destroy the attachment under the gumline. In more advanced cases, the bacteria will reach the bone resulting in the loss of bone support. This breakdown of the gum and bone support is called periodontal disease.

When you have your dental appointment, your dentist will use an instrument to measure the depth of the crevice between the gums and the tooth. When the measurement exceeds 3 mm. it usually signals some loss of the attachment.

Periodontal disease has no symptoms in its early stages although you may notice persistent bad breath You may not realize that you have a problem with your teeth until the disease is far advanced. For that reason it is important to have routine dental check ups with dental X rays when needed. As with all dental diseases, treatment is easier when detected early.

Studies of large numbers of patients suggest that periodontal disease may be risk factor for diseases like heart attack and stroke. Also, expectant mothers with periodontal disease have an increased risk of having low birth weight babies.

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