What You Need to Know
If you are suffering from periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, you may be worried about the health and appearance of your teeth and gums. Don’t worry though, we can help!
What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is a term that covers a range of conditions that affect the tissues around the teeth. The most common types are:
Gingivitis is inflammation in the gums that leads to periodontal disease if not treated. Once bone loss occurs around the teeth, gingivitis has then progressed into periodontal disease. Gingivitis can usually be reversed with good oral hygiene and regular dental cleanings
Periodontitis, also called periodontal disease, is most often and commonly known as gum disease. Inflammation causes bone loss to occur around teeth. When bone loss occurs, pockets develop between the gum and tooth, which in turn contributes to further inflammation as plaque accumulates in the pockets. Therefore, periodontal disease progresses over time from minor to severe, which may lead to tooth loss or more intensive treatment.
What causes periodontal disease?
The main cause of periodontal disease is plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that forms on the teeth every day. If plaque is not removed by brushing and flossing, it can harden into tartar, which is more difficult to clean. Plaque and tartar can irritate the gums and cause them to swell and bleed. They can also produce toxins that can damage the tissues and bone around the teeth.
Some factors that can increase the risk of developing periodontal disease are:
What are the symptoms of periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease often does not cause any pain or discomfort until it reaches an advanced stage. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms that may indicate a problem with your gums. Some of these are:
If you notice any of these symptoms, you should see your dentist as soon as possible for a diagnosis and treatment.
What are the risks of periodontal disease?
People with periodontal disease may have twice the risk of having a stroke than people without periodontal disease.
People with diabetes are more likely to have periodontal disease than people without diabetes. Periodontal disease can also make it harder to control blood sugar levels and increase the risk of diabetes complications.
People with periodontal disease may have an increased risk of heart disease and heart attacks. Periodontal disease can also worsen existing heart conditions.
Women with periodontal disease may have a higher chance of having premature or low-birth-weight babies than women without periodontal disease.
People with periodontal disease may be more prone to respiratory infections such as pneumonia or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
How can you prevent periodontal disease?
The best way to prevent periodontal disease is to practice good oral hygiene habits every day. This includes:
By following these steps, you can keep your gums and teeth healthy and prevent periodontal disease from developing or progressing.
How is periodontal disease treated?
The treatment of periodontal disease depends on the type and severity of the condition. The main goal of treatment is to control the infection, reduce the inflammation, and restore the health of the gums and bone. Some of the treatment options are:
Scaling and root planing:
This is a deep cleaning procedure that removes plaque and tartar from above and below the gum line. It also smooths the root surfaces of the teeth to help the gums reattach to them. Scaling and root planing may require local anesthesia and several visits to the dentist.
Your dentist may prescribe or apply antibiotics, antiseptics, or anti-inflammatory drugs to help fight the infection and reduce the swelling. These may come in the form of mouth rinses, gels, creams, or pills.
- Flap surgery: This involves lifting the gums back and removing the infected tissue. The gums are then sutured back in place, reducing the size of the pockets.
- Bone grafting: This involves using your own bone, synthetic bone, or donated bone to replace the bone that has been lost due to periodontal disease. This can help support the teeth and stimulate new bone growth.
- Soft tissue grafting: This involves using tissue from your palate or another source to cover the exposed roots of your teeth. This can help reduce sensitivity and prevent further gum recession.
- Guided tissue regeneration: This involves placing a special material between the bone and gum tissue to encourage new bone and tissue growth. This can help restore the natural shape and structure of your teeth and gums.
- Dental implants: If you have lost one or more teeth due to periodontal disease, your dentist may suggest replacing them with dental implants. These are artificial tooth roots that are inserted into the jawbone and attached to a crown or a bridge. Dental implants can look and function like natural teeth.
What are the risks of periodontal disease?
A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of periodontal disease. Your dentist may refer you to a periodontist if you have:
A periodontist can provide you with expert care and advice on how to manage your periodontal disease and restore your oral health.