Our mouths are filled with bacteria, which combine with saliva and food particles to create a colorless, sticky film known as plaque. Plaque tends to accumulate between teeth and along the gumline, and if it is not removed by brushing and flossing, it can harden into a mineralized substance called tartar. Plaque and tartar hurt and inflame the gums, which creates a condition referred to as gingivitis. Red, swollen gums that bleed easily when brushed or flossed may be suffering from gingivitis, the mildest form of periodontal disease. If gingivitis is not treated by a complete professional cleaning and proper daily dental hygiene, it can become worse into more advanced forms of gum disease.

Gum disease can have numerous adverse effects on your smile. Its signs include chronic bad breath, a receding gumline, loose or shifting teeth and teeth that are falling out, all of which can affect the appearance and function of your smile. When the infection is affecting only the external gums, it can be more easily treated and controlled. But, once it goes more deeply into the tissues and structures supporting the teeth, the damaging effects of the disease will no longer be able to be reversed. The bacteria will start to proliferate in pockets of infection around the base of the teeth, driving the infection even deeper into the oral cavity and destroying the tooth itself and the bone supporting the tooth.

The infection can then enter the bloodstream and create systemic inflammation. Not only has gum disease been linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, however those who are undergoing joint replacement surgery have been shown at a clinically notable risk for infection if they suffer from periodontal disease before the treatment.

Women have unique risks associated with gum disease. Women who are trying to conceive may be more likely to miscarry if they have active gum disease, whereas those who are already pregnant may be more likely to suffer from preterm birth or have low birth weight babies. Since periodontal disease can weaken the jawbone, women who are postmenopausal may be more susceptible to the bone-weakening effects of gum disease.

Gum disease can have serious detrimental effects on a person's dental and overall health, but it is considered highly preventable. Even though it may have a genetic link, certain other factors, including smoking, diabetes and certain medications, may also increase a person's risk of developing it. Good dental hygiene is the best way to prevent periodontal disease. Brushing your teeth at least two times a day for two minutes at a time and flossing once a day can remove dangerous plaque and bacteria, and professional cleanings will remove the tartar buildup that can cause periodontal disease. Any signs of periodontal disease should be reported to your dentist immediately so that supportive treatments can begin as soon as possible.

Visit BestNorthHollywoodDentist.com, North Hollywood dental center to learn more. Dr. Bijan Afar, North Hollywood periodontist offers several options for the treatment of gum disease in its different stages.