id you know that approximately 80% of the population suffers from some degree of periodontal disease? Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is an infection of the gums and jawbones caused by the colonization of bacteria underneath the tartar on your teeth. Left undetected and untreated, periodontal disease can cause teeth to loosen and eventually come out (75% of adult tooth loss is caused by this disease). Recent studies indicate that the effects of periodontal disease extend beyond your teeth and gums — scientists have now linked it to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, premature births and low birth weight.
Who is at risk?
Any of the following conditions greatly exacerbate the risk of gum disease: smoking, tobacco use, hormone fluctuations, stress, some medications, bruxism, diabetes, poor nutrition, and any disease resulting in immuno suppression, heredity, and poor oral hygiene. Even patients who practice good oral home-care routines can get gum disease. Gums irritated by bacteria can recede from the teeth, creating deep pockets where more bacteria can hide and flourish.
Signs and symptoms of periodontal disease:
- Bleeding gums – Gums should never bleed, even when you brush vigorously or use dental floss.
- Loose teeth – Also caused by bone loss or weakened periodontal fibers (fibers that support the tooth to the bone).
- New spacing between teeth – Caused by bone loss.
- Persistent bad breath – Caused by bacteria in the mouth.
- Pus around the teeth and gums – Sign that there is an infection present.
- Receding gums – Loss of gum around a tooth.
- Red and puffy gums – Gums should never be red or swollen.
- Tenderness or Discomfort – Plaque, calculus, and bacteria irritate the gums and teeth.
A preventive program is a cooperative effort by the patient, dentist, and dental staff to preserve the natural dentition and supporting structures by preventing the onset, progress, and recurrence of dental diseases and conditions.
Preventing dental disease starts at home with good oral hygiene and a balanced diet. It is continued in the dental office by the efforts of your dentist and dental hygienist to promote, restore, and maintain your oral health.
Prevention also includes regular dental exams, cleanings, and x-rays. Sealants and fluoride are also great preventive treatments that help protect the teeth.
Prevention helps avoid serious and costly dental problems and is the key to having a healthy, confident, beautiful smile.
Treating Gum Disease
Early on, when redness, swelling, and bleeding are the only symptoms, we can treat and reverse gum disease non-surgically. Regular check ups greatly increase your potential for early detection and conservative treatment. Generally, treatment will include careful, individualized instruction regarding the most effective means of brushing and flossing at home. This strategy is sometimes accompanied by professional scaling or careful scraping of all affected tooth surfaces, gum pocket irrigation, and even local antibiotic placement in areas of significant irritation. Often, patients experience immediate improvement. If, however, symptoms don’t improve significantly, you may require surgical treatment.
If gum disease progresses without intervention, a patient may need surgery to remediate the disease and restore the mouth to good oral health. Typically, periodontists may perform four surgical treatments: pocket depth reduction, bone or tissue regeneration, crown lengthening, and/or soft tissue grafts. All of these procedures may improve your chances of keeping your teeth for life.
In keeping with our overall mission as providers of comprehensive care, we take a proactive and
comprehensive approach to periodontal therapy. If you have further questions please feel free to contact our office.