Teeth are held inside the jaw through an interconnected system of bone, ligaments and tissue. Infection of one or multiple parts of this system is called periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease progresses very slowly and is often painless. It is also the primary cause of tooth loss after the age of 35.
There are three factors which contribute to this disease. They are as follows.
1) Plaque, a sticky, colorless deposit that collects on teeth. Plaque is created by a combination of saliva, food and fluids. It begins forming on teeth 4-12 hours after being completely removed and is constantly being generated in the mouth. Plaque is relatively easily removed by the combination of brushing and flossing.
2) Tartar (also called calculus), which is the crusty texture that envelops plaque, if not removed within a few days. This crust will harbor plaque and bacteria and cannot be removed by regular brushing and flossing.
3) The bacteria that hide inside tartar use the sugars, you consume through your diet to create toxins that destroy gum and supporting bone. These bacteria are always present in the mouth and are part of plaque and tartar.
Periodontal bacteria are removed every time you have a regular cleaning done at the dental office. However, if there is a heavy amount of bacteria due to disease, a periodontal cleaning may be necessary.
Scaling and root planning or periodontal cleanings are done in two or more appointments and under local anesthesia. Special antibiotic rinses are also used in order to reduce the number of bacteria. This is the first step in the treatment of periodontal disease. If minimal or no improvement is seen after this treatment, then further steps such as periodontal surgery may be necessary to stop the infection and to restore the tissues to health.
Since each individual's ability to resist periodontal disease is different, you need to follow your dentist's recommendation about the frequency of cleanings you need at the dental office.