Periodontal disease is an infection of the structures around your teeth, caused by bacteria found in the plaque build-up that forms around the gum line. It starts in the gums and if left untreated can progress to the cementum that covers the tooth root, the periodontal ligament and even into the bone. Although the disease can become very serious, with proper treatment and care the condition can be prevented and managed.
Who is at Risk?
Periodontal disease can affect all of us, but there are some factors that put you at greater risk:
- Genes – Some people are naturally more prone to the disease than others.
- Smoking/tobacco use – Smokers tend to develop more tartar on their teeth. Smoking may also make the condition more resistant to treatment
- Crowded teeth, braces or bridgework – Anything that makes brushing more difficult makes plaque build-up more likely.
- Grinding, gritting or clenching of teeth – These habits don’t cause periodontal disease, but they may contribute to the condition being more severe.
- Stress – Stress weakens your body’s immune system and makes it harder to fight infections
- Fluctuating hormones – When changes happen in the body you may temporarily be at higher risk, so extra care is needed during these times.
- Medications – Some medications can cause dry mouth, which will increase the likelihood of plaque formation.
- Diseases – Some health conditions can increase your risk. It is important to keep us apprised of your health situation so that we can advise on how this may impact your oral health.
- Poor nutrition – Overall health impacts the immune system and the body’s ability to fight infection.
It is important to pay attention to our teeth and make note of any symptoms that may be concerning. If you notice any of these symptoms, make an appointment with us so that we provide an examination and advise you on treatment options.
• Gums that bleed during and/or after brushing teeth
• Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth
• Receding gums
• Formation of deep pockets between teeth and gums
• Red, swollen or tender gums
• Loose or shifting teeth
• Sores in your mouth
• Painful or sensitive teeth
A good daily oral hygiene regimen that includes brushing and flossing is the first step toward a healthy smile. The following steps can help reduce your risk of periodontal disease:
- Proper dental care
- Professional dental cleanings twice a year
- Healthy diet
- Reduce stress
- Seek treatment for clenching and grinding of teeth
- Quit smoking
The type of treatment we recommend will depend on the severity of your condition. We will assess your situation and develop a treatment plan specific to your needs. Treatment options include:
- Scaling and Root Planing – This is a form of deep cleaning performed in our office. Scaling is a process of scraping tartar off from above and below the gum line. Root Planing will smooth out rough spots on the root of the tooth where germs and bacteria are more prone to gathering.
- Medications – Medication may be used as the primary treatment, or be used in conjunction with other treatments. There are various kinds of medications that come in the form of a rinse, gel or tablet. Medication can be used to control bacteria, control the body’s enzyme responses, or to treat persistent infection.
- Surgery – In more
sever cases, surgery may be required.
There are two main types of surgical treatments:
- Flap Surgery – The gums are lifted back to allow the removal of tartar deposits that can’t be reached in normal deep cleaning. The gums are then sutured back in place snugly around the tooth.
- Bone and Tissue Grafting – In extreme cases you may need to regenerate bone or gum tissue. Bone grafting involves a natural or synthetic bone being placed where bone has been lost to promote new growth. Tissue grafting inserts a mesh-like material between the bone and gum tissue in order to prevent the gum from invading the place where bone should be.
If you have any concerns about your risk of periodontal disease and would like help with treatment or prevention, contact our office today to schedule an appointment.