How To Keep A Healthy Smile For Life
Link to the American Dental Assoc. regarding periodontal disease
Periodontal disease can affect one tooth or many teeth. It begins when the bacteria in plaque (the sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on your teeth) causes the gums to become inflamed.
In the mildest form of the disease, gingivitis, the gums redden, swell and bleed easily. There is usually little or no discomfort. Gingivitis is often caused by inadequate oral hygiene. Gingivitis is reversible with professional treatment to periodontitis. With time, plaque can spread and grow below the gum line.
Toxins produced by the bacteria in plaque irritate the gums. The body in essence turns on itself, and the tissues and bone that support the teeth are broken down and destroyed.
Gums separate from the teeth, forming pockets (spaces between the teeth and gums) that become infected. As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed. Often, this destructive process has very mild to almost no symptoms. Think of it as if bugs are eating away at the soil around a tree trunk. Eventually, they eat away all of the soil and part of the tree’s roots, causing the tree to collapse
The main cause of periodontal disease is bacterial plaque, a sticky, colorless film that of your gums. Daily brushing and flossing, when done correctly, can help to remove most of the plaque from your teeth. Professional cleanings by your dentist or dental hygienist will keep plaque under control in places that are harder for a toothbrush or floss to reach.
If oral hygiene slips or you skip dental visits, plaque builds up on the teeth. Eventually, it spreads below the gum line. The bacteria are protected there because your toothbrush can’t reach them. If plaque is not removed, the bacteria will continue to multiply. This will cause a more serious infection.
Smoking/Tobacco Use – recent studies have shown that tobacco use may be one of the most significant risk factors in the development and progression of periodontal disease.
Genetics – Research proves that up to 30% of the population may be genetically susceptible to gum disease. It is also a transmissible disease that can pass from partner to partner.
Pregnancy – During this time, your body experiences hormonal changes and these changes can affect many of the tissues in your body, including your gums.
Stress – Research demonstrates that stress can make it more difficult for the body to fight off infection, including periodontal diseases.
Certain Medications – Some drugs, such as oral contraceptives, anti-depressants, and certain heart medicines, can affect your oral health.
Clenching or Grinding – Clenching or grinding your teeth can put excess force on the supporting tissues of the teeth and could speed up the rate at which these periodontal tissues are destroyed.
Diabetes – If you are diabetic, you are at higher risk for developing infections, including periodontal diseases.
Poor Nutrition – a diet low in important nutrients can compromise the body’s immune system. Because periodontal disease is a serious infection, poor nutrition can worsen the condition of your gums.
Other Systemic Diseases – Diseases that interfere with the body’s immune system may worsen the condition of the gums.
Treatment Of Periodontal Disease
Periodontal health should be achieved in the least invasive and most cost-effective manner. This is often accomplished through non-surgical periodontal treatment, including scaling and root planning (a careful deep cleaning of the root surfaces to remove plaque and calculus [tartar] from deep periodontal pockets and to smooth the tooth root to remove bacterial toxins)
Most dentists and specialists would agree that after scaling and root planning, many patients do not require any further active treatment, including surgical intervention. However, the majority of patients will require ongoing maintenance therapy to sustain health. Non-surgical therapy does have its limitations, however, and when it does not achieve periodontal health, surgery may be indicated to restore periodontal anatomy damaged by periodontal diseases and to facilitate oral hygiene practices.
For more information, please ask your dentist or dental hygienist.