Periodontal (gum) disease affects three out of four adults at some time in their lives.
It doesn't necessarily hurt and you may not even be aware that you have it until an advanced stage. Tooth loss is not the only potential problem posed by periodontal disease. Research suggests that there may be a link between periodontal diseases and other health concerns such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, bacterial pneumonia, and increased risk during pregnancy.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is an infection of the tissue and bone that support your teeth.
In a healthy mouth the gum tissue fits like a cuff around the tooth. Where the tissue meets the tooth it forms a v-shaped crevice called a sulcus. If the depth of this sulcus is 3 millimeters or less it is considered healthy.
Periodontal diseases attacks just below the gum line in the sulcus, where the bacteria cause the attachment of the tooth and its supporting tissue and bone to break down. As the tissues are damaged, the sulcus develops into a pocket that is greater than 3 millimeters. Generally, the more severe the disease, the greater the pocket depth and the greater the bone loss.
What are the warning signs and factors that increase risk?
Several warning signs that can signal a problem:
- Gums that bleed easily
- Red, swollen, tender gums
- Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
- Persistent bad breath or bad taste
- Permanent teeth that are loose or separating
- Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- Any change in the fit of partial dentures
Some factors that increase the risk of developing periodontal disease:
- Crooked teeth
- Tobacco smoking or chewing
- Systemic diseases such as diabetes
- Some types of medication such as steroids
- Some types of anti-epilepsy drugs and cancer therapy drugs
- Some calcium channel blockers
- Bridges that no longer fit properly
- Fillings that have become defective
- Pregnancy or use of oral contraceptives
Several warning signs can signal a problem and several factors can increase the risk of developing periodontal disease.
While periodontal disease may begin slowly for some patients, others may develop a rapidly progressive form of the disease. Unlike tooth decay which often causes discomfort, it is possible to have periodontal disease without noticeable symptoms. That is why regular dental checkups and periodontal examinations are very important.
How to treat Periodontal Disease?
The treatment of Periodontal Disease will vary with the type and severity of the disease.
GINGIVITIS is the early stage of periodontal disease.
This may be treated simply, by improving your oral hygiene routine with better brushing and flossing. It may also require 1-3 gingivitis therapy appointments to remove the plaque and tarter and the bacteria that is irritating the tissue. This will allow the tissue to return to health. When the tissue is healthy it is easier to maintain.
PERIODONTITIS will take a more aggressive non surgical therapy.
This usually involves root planning and scaling. This therapy may take 3 – 6 appointments. Each appointment is 2 weeks apart. This treatment plan will allow us to get the tissue back to a healthy state. Then in order to maintain this health, you should be seen every 3 months to make sure that any small areas of infection is treated before it becomes a problem again.
ADVANCED PERIODONTITIS is the worst stage of the disease.
This will usually cause the loss of one or more teeth and periodontal surgery to help remove the infected tissue and bone.
We are excited to announce an innovative procedure called Laser Bacterial Reduction to help fight gingivitis and periodontal disease.
Our team strives to give the highest standard of care to our patients. Read this blog article to learn why we recommend that all our patients have the painless Laser Bacterial Reduction done during the first 10 minutes of their cleaning appointments.