Gum disease, also known as "periodontal disease" (peri: surrounding, dont: tooth) affects about a third of all adults and is the most common cause for tooth loss, the other major cause being dental decay. While there are many risk factors for gum disease that can make an individual susceptible, dental plaque is the major cause of gum disease.
Dental plaque is a sticky film which forms on teeth and teems with microbes. The gums respond to these plaque organisms by inflammation, which is known as "gingivitis." Common complaints which could imply an underlying gum problem are gum bleeding, especially on brushing or chewing, a foul taste or bad breath, and a dull ache or itchy feeling in gums. As the disease advances, it causes the gums to recede, teeth to loosen and, sometimes, painful abscesses and tooth loss.
Periodontal Maintenance Vs Prophylaxis
Serious gum disease is preventable to a very large extent. The basic treatment involves "scaling and root planing," which removes plaque and calculus from below the gum line and infected roots with special ultrasonic devices. Serious gum problems account for a chunk of dental care costs, and evidence shows that simply preventing gum disease can mean a 21 percent reduction of total health care costs.