What Is Periodontal Disease

Periodontal Disease

85% of all people have some form of periodontal disease, it is the most common disease known to man today. Periodontal disease is caused by a bacterial infection of the gum tissue and bone tissue. Over time if left untreated it will lead to pain and tooth loss. Typically periodontal disease starts at age 20 and progresses the remainder of your life. In normal healthy gum tissue is healthy it fits snug and attaches to the tooth firmly. When an individual has periodontal disease bacteria which is not properly cleaned out from the gums causes the gums to detach from the tooth. This advances as the bacteria continues to work its way into the gum pocket and damages bone. As time passes and more bone is damaged teeth will become loose and may need to be removed. This is why it is important to see the signs early and prevent periodontal disease in the earliest stages.

How does periodontal disease link to my body?

  • The bacteria that causes periodontal disease has been linked to over 100 other diseases in your body like arthritis, diabetes, strokes and heart disease. The bacteria from the mouth enter the blood stream and causes inflammation throughout your body.

How do I know if I have periodontal disease?

These are the warning signs for periodontal disease:

  • bleeding gums while brushing or flossing
  • gums that are red, swollen or tender
  • gums that are receding
  • persistent bad breath
  • pus coming from the gums
  • a change in your bite and how your teeth fit together
  • Spaces or food impaction areas

How do I get periodontal disease?

The primary and most important cause of periodontal disease is caused by the lack of removal of plaque below the gum line, otherwise known as home care and professional teeth cleaning. Plaque is a film that is sticky, even after being removed, reforms on the teeth in 24 hours.  The secondary cause is heredity – you get it from your parents.

Some patients require professional teeth cleaning every 3, 4 or 6 months depending on the stage of periodontal disease they have and the life cycle of the bacteria.

The bacterial, which causes the infection the gums to detach from the tooth and results in the formation of gum pockets. The pockets collect bacteria and starts infecting the gums and bone. The plaque also becomes hard over time and forms calculus (a.k.a. Tartar) which makes it easier for bacteria to become trapped and cause more infection. Calculus needs to be removed by a dentist or hygienist for the gums to be able to heal. The longer this goes untreated the worse is can get.

Prevention of periodontal disease

  • Floss between your teeth and below the gum line daily. Ask your hygienist to show you the proper technique.
  • Brush twice a day for 2-3min.
  • Rinse with a dentist recommended mouthwash once or twice a day.
  • Eat healthy and visit your dentist regularly- that may be every 6 months, 4months or even every 3 months

Risks for periodontal disease

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Smoking and chewing tobacco greatly increase the risk of periodontal disease
  • Diabetes and other diseases that affect your whole body will lower resistance to infection caused by bacteria and make you a higher risk for periodontal disease.
  • Medications can affect the gums such as steroids and blood pressure medication. Inform the dentist of all the medications you take, and all your health conditions.
  • Changes in hormones can cause gums to become more sensitive to bacteria and plaque. Pregnant women, teenagers and those taking birth control pills can have changes in hormone levels.
  • Genetics play a large role in periodontal disease. If you know your parents have suffered from periodontal disease, have lost teeth, or wear dentures it may mean you are at greater risk.
  • Bacteria that causes periodontal disease can also be transferred from parents to children and between partners through the saliva.

How to check for periodontal disease

  • The dentist or hygienist will use clinical methods to diagnose periodontal disease. One way is to measure the depth of the pockets in the gums are with a periodontal probe. Gums affected by the disease will usually measure above 3 millimeters. The deeper the pocket depth the more advanced the disease. The same x-rays that are taken for the basic exam can show the amount of bone around the teeth.
  • If periodontal disease is diagnosed, a treatment plan will be formulated and presented to the patient. Treatment plan usually consists of 4 separate cleaning or “scaling” visits in which the hygienist will focus on one quarter or “quadrant” of the mouth per visit and remove all the calculus and plaque. Laser may also be recommended and added to the treatment to aid in the removal of bacteria in the pockets of the gums, reduce bleeding, and help the gums reseal to the tooth faster.
  • If periodontal disease is caught in a very early stage a standard dental cleaning and home care instruction may be enough.

After treatment

  • You may be asked to return more frequently for checkups and cleanings to maintain and control periodontal disease.
  • Home care is vital to maintaining and preventing a return of periodontal disease. Floss daily under gum line, brush for 2-3 min. 2 times daily.
  • Sometimes the dentist may recommend medicine to help control infection, pain, or aid in the healing process.



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