What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal (gum) disease is caused by Bacterial Plaque that forms on the teeth. The plaque will irritate the gums, causing them to become tender, red and swollen. Bleeding gingiva (gums) is the first symptom of gingivitis (inflammation of the gums). If the plaque is not removed effectively, the plaque calcifies to form Tartar or calculus.
Small pockets form between the teeth and gums as the tissue that attaches the gums to the teeth is destroyed by the bacteria and eventually the gums pull away from the teeth.
As the infection progresses, the spongy, soft, bleeding gingiva are no longer capable of providing a biological seal for the underlying bone, blood and nerves. These pockets form between the teeth and gum and enable more plaque to fill in these areas.
These areas are more susceptible for specific bacteria to invade the root surfaces and the weakened biological seal and infect the jawbone. In severe cases, this bone loss can result in tooth loss as the jawbone supporting the teeth is destroyed.
Are there other causes of Periodontal Disease?
- vitamin C deficiency
- excessive consumption of alcohol
- unbalanced diet
- certain medications
- improper use of floss and toothpicks
My gums are fine, nothing hurts?
In most cases periodontal disease is painless in the early stages. Studies have shown 4/5 teenagers and adults have some form of gum disease and don’t even know it. But if you are diagnosed early, your teeth can be saved. Early detection by a Hygienist or your Dentist is the key to successful prevention and treatment of gum disease.
What are the signs of periodontal disease?
- bleeding gums to toothbrushing or flossing
- bad taste, bad odor
- changes in tooth position, spaces developing
- gums are red, puffy and tender
- teeth are loosening
- gums are spongy and loosening
- receding gums
- vague, itchy feeling around the gums
- pus between the teeth
What is the treatment for periodontal disease?
The type of treatment required depends on what stage of the disease you’re at. At an early stage of periodontal disease your dentist will recommend a professional cleaning by a Hygienist followed by a daily brushing and flossing regimen.
When the disease is more serious, determination of an individualized soft tissue care program will be reviewed and either a 3 month, 6 month, or 9 month program will be recommended to control and maintain the disease.
Re-evaluation of the periodontal disease will be monitored closely by your dentist to review the success of the therapy and to determine if a referral to a periodontal specialist is necessary. If you have any concerns or questions, please discuss them with your Dentist or Dental Hygienist at your next visit.
What is the relationship between Periodontal Disease and Diabetes?
Though more research is needed, studies have shown that severe periodontal disease can increase blood sugar, putting diabetics at an even greater risk for further complications. Periodontal Disease may make it more difficult for people who have diabetes to control their blood sugar. If you think or know you have diabetes, see your dentist for an evaluation.
What is the relationship between periodontal disease and heart disease?
Many theories exist to explain the connection between periodontal disease and heart disease. Oral bacteria can affect the heart when it enters the bloodstream. The bacteria attach to the fatty plaques in the heart’s blood vessels (coronary arteries) and help to form clots. Coronary artery disease is characterized by the build-up of fatty proteins which thicken the walls of the coronary arteries. The blood clots can interfere with normal blood flow which restricts the oxygen and amount of nutrients to the heart and decreases the heart’s ability to function properly. This may lead to heart attacks. Studies have shown that people with Periodontal Disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease as those without periodontal disease.
What is the link between periodontal disease and respiratory disease?
Research has revealed that periodontal (gum) disease may be a far more serious threat to your health than ever realized previously. What we know is that mouth infections like periodontal disease are associated with increased risk of respiratory infection. Scientists have found that oral bacteria can be aspirated into the lung through the inhaling of fine droplets from the mouth and throat into the lungs. These droplets contain germs that can multiply within the lungs to cause damage and increase health risks.
How can I stop Gum Disease?
There are many ways to fight gum disease:
- eliminate or slow the growth of bacteria that may cause gum disease by BRUSHING and FLOSSING well, especially before bed
- eat a healthy balanced diet
- avoid smoking
- reduce alcohol consumption
- see your Dentist and Hygienist regularly for examinations and professional cleanings to prevent the progression of the disease.