REGULARLY CHECKING FOR

Periodontal Disease

Should always be part of your regular dental check-up

Your Oral Health

Periodontal disease is diagnosed by your dentist or dental hygienist during a periodontal examination.

Periodontal (Gum) disease is one possible dental issue that affects the gums and bones supporting the teeth. It is caused by existing plaque and calculus (tartar), hardened plaque, which destroy the gums and bones over time. Many people do not know that they have periodontal disease – four out of every five people to be exact – because the early stages usually cause no pain.

There are many different health problems linked to periodontal disease. While more obviously being the number one reason for tooth loss, new research suggests that this disease is linked to other health problems like strokes, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, bacterial pneumonia, and increased risk during pregnancy. The risk of periodontal disease is also higher in smokers.

To reduce your risk of periodontal disease, you should maintain good oral hygiene, eat a balanced diet, and visit our office for regular dental visits.

Causes of Periodontal Disease

Gum disease is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Preventative measures and significantly decrease your risk of developing periodontal disease.

Poor dental hygiene – regular dental visits, a balanced diet, and good home care can all inhibit bacterial growth.

Tobacco use – Smokers are more likely to have more tartar buildup, deep pockets in gingival tissue, significant bone loss, and a slower recovery and healing rate.

Genetic predisposition – Close to 30% of the population is likely to have a strong genetic predisposition to periodontal disease. If your family is commonly afflicted with gum disease, consider taking genetic tests and early intervention to maintain oral cavity health.

Pregnancy and menopause – hormones during pregnancy and menopause cause greater sensitivity to the gums, which leaves them more susceptible to gum disease. Make sure to maintain excellent and regular home oral care during these times.

Chronic stress and poor diet – stress, poor diet, or malnutrition can all lessen the immune system’s ability to fight and beat infection, including those of the gums.

Diabetes and underlying medical issues – Heart disease, respiratory disease, osteoporosis, and arthritis can all lead to accelerated or intensified onset and progression of periodontitis. Since diabetes negatively affects how the body uses insulin, infections in the gum become harder to control and cure.

Grinding teeth – teeth grinding or clenching damages supporting tissues that surround teeth. People usually grind their teeth because they have a “bad bite,” meaning teeth are misaligned. The additional destruction of gingival tissue that is caused by grinding can accelerate gum disease in individuals already affected.

Medication – Oral contraceptive pills, anti-depressants, steroids, and heart medications all negatively change the overall condition of teeth and gums. Steroids specifically can cause gingival overgrowth, which leads to more swelling, meaning more places for bacteria to grow in gum tissue.

Feel free to contact us or schedule an appointment any time if you would like to learn more about or show any signs of periodontal disease.

Periodontal Disease and Diabetes

Diabetics have a higher risk at developing infections like those that lead to gum disease. In fact, periodontal disease is a common but often unrecognized complication of diabetes, especially in people who do not properly manage their diabetes.

Diabetics have too much glucose, commonly referred to as sugar, in their bloodstream. Type II diabetes in particular makes it more difficult to control insulin levels, causing excess sugar to stay in blood. This problem is even more prominent in Type I diabetics, who produce no insulin at all. Diabetes can lead to other health issues like heart disease or strokes.

Reasons for the Connection

The risks between periodontal disease and diabetes can worsen if neither is properly handled. Below are the issues that arise because of the connection between these two health conditions:

Increase blood sugar – body sugar levels increase as a result of moderate to severe periodontitis. Bodies need more time to process the sugar, making it more difficult for diabetics to control their blood sugar levels. Also, because bacteria use oral sugar levels as fuel to grow, diabetics have a higher risk to worse periodontal infections.
Thickening blood vessels – Thicker blood vessels in diabetics cannot do their normal functions of delivering and removing substances from the blood stream.

Signs, Symptoms, & Treatment

Periodontal disease often progresses without any signs or symptoms, including pain. You should always visit a periodontist regularly to get properly checked so that treatment can begin as soon as possible if needed.

Unexplained bleeding – The bacterial infection caused by toxins in plaque can make tissues prone to bleeding, most commonly while brushing teeth, flossing, or eating food.

Pain, redness, or swelling – It is important to stop any potential infection which causes the gums to swell, turn red, or feel painful for no apparent reason. If not treated, the infection can spread to the gum tissue, jawbone, or even to the bloodstream where the infection is taken to other body areas.

Longer-looking teeth – Toxins produced by bacteria can destroy bones and supporting tissues. Although commonly mistaken as the teeth lengthening or a “toothy” smile, it is actually caused by receding gums.

Bad Breath/Halitosis – Periodontal disease-related bad breath is caused by old food particles stuck between your teeth and underneath your gum line. Deeper gum pockets also hide more debris and bacteria, eventually causes bad odors.

Loose teeth/change in bite pattern – When periodontitis rapidly progresses, the teeth can either loosen or begin to shift. This is caused by the destruction of bone tissue, which allows teeth that used to be tightly attached to the jawbone to move around.

Pus – A definitive sign of periodontal infection is pus, produced by the body in an attempt to fight bacterial infection, emerging from between teeth.

Treatment of Periodontal Disease

After a full mouth examination to diagnose periodontal disease and determine the extent of infection, Dr. Wells will discuss several options with you for treatment to help decide what treatment is best for you:

Scaling and Root Planing – the periodontist will remove the bacteria and calculus (tartar) that caused infection to maintain gum tissue health by cleaning the gum pockets and antibiotic treatment when necessary to remove the infection

Laser Treatment – one way to reduce the size of pockets between teeth and gums

Tissue and Bone Grafting – Also known as tissue regeneration, this involves inserting a membrane to stimulate tissue growth in areas with large amounts of destroyed bone or gum tissue

Pocket Elimination Surgery – also known as flap surgery, this directly reduces the size of gum pockets

Dental Implant – Possibly after tissue regeneration, implants replace the teeth lost to periodontal disease and are installed in the jawbone to restore the aesthetic appearance and functionality of your mouth

Feel free to contact us or schedule an appointment any time if you would like to learn more about or show any signs of periodontal disease.

What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal, meaning “around the tooth,” disease is a common inflammatory condition that affects soft tissues that surround and support each tooth. Also referred to as periodontitis and gum disease, this dental health issue can also spread to the jawbone in advanced stages.

Gingivitis, bacterial infection of gum tissue, usually precedes periodontal disease. Toxins produced by plaque irritate and inflame the gum tissue, which is the cause of bacterial infection of the gums. The infection moves into the gum pockets between teeth where it becomes increasingly difficult to remove and treat. Periodontal disease progressively worsens, eventually destroying connective tissue and the jawbone. When left untreated, teeth shift out of place, loosen, and eventually fall out.

Periodontal disease is the number one cause of tooth loss in the developed world among adults. It should always be treated as soon as possible.

Types of Periodontal Disease

Gingivitis is the mild inflammation of the gums, but it can spread below the gum line if not treated. The gums develop a chronic inflammatory response to the toxins within plaque, leading the body to ultimately destroy its own bone and soft tissue. However, there can be few or no symptoms while periodontal disease makes the teeth separate from the infected gum tissue. One main indication of this issue is the deepening of pockets between gums and teeth.

The most common types of periodontal disease are listed below:

Chronic Periodontitis – The most common type of periodontal disease. Deep pockets and gum recession are caused by inflammation inside the supporting tissues. Teeth appear to be lengthening, but actually the gums are receding. This type causes progressive loss of teeth attachment or varying periods of rapid deterioration.

Aggressive Periodontitis – Causes rapid loss of gum attachment, familial aggregation, and rapid loss of gum attachment. This type of periodontal disease affects otherwise clinically healthy individuals.

Necrotizing Periodontitis – Individuals affected by HIV, immunosuppression and malnutrition most commonly are affected by this type of periodontal disease. Tissue death, of necrosis, happens in periodontal ligaments, alveolar bones and gingival tissues.

Feel free to contact us or schedule an appointment any time if you would like to learn more about or show any signs of periodontal disease.

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