Periodontal disease is a progressive, inflammatory condition that affects the supporting and surrounding soft tissues of the tooth; it is most often preceded by gingivitis, which is a bacterial infection of the gum tissue. It causes the tissue to pull away from the teeth, and if left untreated, deep pockets form between the gum and the teeth. As it advances, the bone supporting the teeth is destroyed. Teeth can then shift, become loose, and eventually be lost completely.
Periodontal health is determined by the use of a calibrated instrument called a Probe. The probe is used to measure the depth of the pocket between the tooth and gum, these pocket depths combined with gum recession and the presence of bleeding upon taking the probe measurements are the diagnostic indicators we use to detect Periodontal disease.
It's worth noting that periodontal disease appears to be a risk factor for both heart attack and stroke, possibly DOUBLING your risk. The theories include:
- Oral Bacteria - There are many different strains of bacteria in the mouth, some of which affect the heart by entering the blood stream and attaching to the fatty plaques in the coronary arteries.
- Inflammation - Periodontal disease causes severe inflammation in the gum tissue, which elevate the white blood cell count.
- Infectious susceptibility - People with high levels of oral bacteria may have weaker immune systems and an inadequate host inflammatory response.