How Do Healthy Gums Become Diseased?
Periodontal disease is caused by plaque that forms on teeth. Plaque will irritate gums, causing them to become red, tender, and swollen. If not removed, plaque hardens to form tartar. Over time, the tissue that attaches the gums to the teeth is destroyed and the gums pull away from the teeth. Small pockets form between the teeth and gums and fill with more plaque. Eventually, the jawbone supporting the teeth is destroyed.
Periodontal disease is usually painless so most adults are unaware they have it. But if you are diagnosed early, your teeth can be saved.
Other causes of periodontal disease are smoking, excessive consumption of alcohol, improper use of dental floss and toothpicks, an unbalanced diet, vitamin C deficiency, pregnancy and certain medications. Warning signs to look out for are gums that bleed when you brush your teeth, red, swollen or receding gums, Pus between teeth, loose teeth, bad breath, and a change in your bite or the way your dentures fit.
The type of treatment required depends on the stage of the disease. In the early stages your dentist will recommend professional cleaning followed by daily brushing and flossing. When gum disease is more serious, your dentist may have to remove the infected gum tissue. Surgery can sometimes involve reshaping the bone around the tooth or removing a portion of the bone. In the most serious cases, you may loose a tooth. Your dentist will advise you on the best way to replace it.
Who Gets Periodontal Disease?
People usually don`t show signs of gum disease until they are in their 30s or 40s. Men are more likely to have periodontal disease than women. Although teenagers rarely develop periodontitis, they can develop gingivitis, the milder form of gum disease.Most commonly, gum disease develops when plaque is allowed to build up along and under the gum line.
Signs of Gum Disease
Risk For Gum Disease
- Gums that bleed when you brush or floss your teeth
- Red, swollen or tender gums
- Pus between your teeth
- Pain when chewing
- Calculus or tartar build-up
- Changes in bite
- Loose or shifting teeth
- Bad breath or chronic bad taste
- Teeth sensitivity to hot or cold
- Gums that recede or gums that shrink away from your teeth
Certain risk factors can make gum disease worse. If you have one of the following risk factors, you should be extra committed to taking care of your teeth and gums.
- Smoking and tobacco chewing
- A weakened immune system (such as from AIDS and HIV)
- Heart disease
- A family history of periodontal disease
- Using certain medications (such as oral contraceptives, steroids, blood pressure medications, seizure medications and certain cancer-fighting drugs)
- Unbalanced diet
- Periodontal bacteria can enter the blood stream and travel to major organs and begin new infections. Research is suggesting that this may:
- Contribute to the development of heart disease, the nation`s leading cause of death.
- Increase the risk of stroke.
- Increase a woman`s risk of having a preterm, low birth weight baby.
Pose a serious threat to people whose health is compromised by diabetes, respiratory diseases, or osteoporosis
Don’t Ignore Your Oral Health
If you value your oral as well as your overall health, a periodontal evaluation is a good idea. Sometimes the only way to detect periodontal disease is through a periodontal evaluation.
A periodontal evaluation may be especially important if you:
- Notice any symptoms of periodontal disease.
- Have heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease or osteoporosis.
- Are thinking of becoming pregnant.
- Have a family member with periodontal disease.
Research suggests that the bacteria that cause periodontal disease can pass through saliva. This means the common contact of saliva in families puts children and couples at risk for contracting the periodontal disease of another family member.
- Have a sore or irritation in your mouth that does not get better within two weeks.
Maintenance of Periodontally Diseased Gums
Successful periodontal therapy with regular periodic maintenance care can sustain periodontal health and reduce tooth loss.
Following active therapy, an interval is established for periodic ongoing care. Maintenance procedures are performed under ongoing supervision and include:
- Update of medical/dental histories
- Extraoral & intraoral soft tissue exam
- Dental exam, cancer screening
- Periodontal exam
- Removing bacteria (plaque & calculus)
The successful long term control of periodontal disease depends on active maintenance care through supportive periodontal treatment. A customised program will be “set-up” for you that will allow us to monitor for recurring disease and your plaque control efficiency.
Please contact us if you have any further questions. We are happy to answer any questions you may have.
What is the treatment for the early stages of gum disease?
If you already have gum disease, getting rid of plaque and tartar gives your gums a chance to get better. That’s why in the early stages of gum disease, the best treatment is:
- Regular cleanings in our practice
- Brushing twice a day
- Flossing at least once a day