Gum disease, pyorrhea, periodontitis, a rose by any other name....

So what exactly is gum disease and can I explain it easily enough for anyone to understand?  I think so.

I'm sure you have heard of plaque and tartar.  It's mentioned in all the toothpaste ads.  Plaque is the soft stuff on your teeth that can come off with a toothbrush.  Tartar ( or what we dentists call "calculus"- not the math by the way) is the hard stuff you cannot brush off.  It's found above the gum line where you can see it and below where you cannot.  Tartar...to put it indelicately... has to be scrapped off.  We dentists call this "scaling".   Now bacteria live in the plaque and tartar.  They produce among other things toxins that break down the gum tissue attachment to the teeth and cause the bone that holds the teeth to shrink away.  As it becomes more severe, your teeth become loose and you if left untreated the affected teeth will be lost.  That in a nut shell is gum disease.  It is generally painless.  Bleeding swollen red gums are often seen.  Some times you cannot tell you suffer from it to look at your gums.

gum disease © Dr Steven Rosenblat

So how do we dentists know it's there? 

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