What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal treatment is necessary when various conditions affect the health of your gums and the regions of your jawbone that hold your teeth in place. Retaining your teeth is directly dependent on proper periodontal care and maintenance. Healthy gums enhance the appearance of your teeth, like a frame around a beautiful painting. When your gums become unhealthy, they can either recede or become swollen and red. In later stages, the supporting bone is destroyed and your teeth will shift, loosen, or fall out. These changes not only affect your ability to chew and speak. They also spoil your smile.
Periodontal diseases are infections of the gums, which gradually destroy the support of your natural teeth. Dental plaque is the primary cause of gum disease in genetically susceptible individuals. Bacteria found in plaque produce toxins or poisons, which irritate the gums. This may cause the gums to turn red, swell and bleed easily. If this irritation is prolonged, the gums separate from the teeth, causing pockets (spaces) to form. Plaque can also harden into a rough, porous substance known as calculus (or tartar). This can occur both above and below the gum line. As periodontal diseases progress, the supporting gum tissue and bone that holds teeth in place deteriorate. If left untreated, this leads to tooth loss. However, don’t be fooled. With periodontal disease, bleeding, redness and swelling do not have to be present. Further, pain is usually not associated with periodontal disease. This disease damages the teeth, gum and jawbone of more than 80% of Americans by age 45.
To provide you with a better understanding of periodontics, we have provided the following multimedia presentation. Many common questions pertaining to periodontics are discussed.
Preventing Gum Disease
Adults past the age of 35 lose more teeth to gum disease than from cavities. Three out of four adults are affected at some time in their life. The best way to prevent cavities and periodontal diseases is by good tooth brushing and flossing techniques, performed daily, and regular professional examinations and cleanings. Unfortunately, even with the most diligent home dental care, people still can develop some form of periodontal disease. Once this disease starts, professional intervention is necessary to prevent its progression.
- Tobacco Use
- Clenching and grinding teeth
- Poor nutrition
Periodontal disease is dangerous in that it is often painless and symptomless. 80% of Americans will be afflicted with periodontal disease by age 45, and 4 out of 5 patients with the disease are unaware they have it. It is important to maintain proper home oral care and regular dentist visits to reduce the risk of obtaining this disease.
Tobacco and Periodontal Disease
You are probably familiar with the links between tobacco use and lung disease, cancer and heart disease.
Current studies have now linked periodontal disease with tobacco usage. These cases may be even more severe than those of non-users of tobacco. There is a greater incidence of calculus formation on teeth, deeper pockets between gums and teeth as well as greater loss of the bone and fibers that hold teeth in your mouth. In addition, your chance of developing oral cancer increases with the use of smokeless tobacco.
Chemicals in tobacco such as nicotine and tar, slow down healing and the predictability of success following periodontal treatment.
- Lung disease
- Heart disease
- Mouth sores
- Gum recession
- Loss of bone and teeth
- Bad breath
- Tooth staining
- Less success with periodontal treatment and dental implants
Diabetes and Periodontal Disease
For years we’ve known that people with diabetes are more likely to have periodontal disease than people without diabetes.
Recently, research has emerged suggesting that the relationship goes both ways- periodontal disease may make it more difficult for people who have diabetes to control their blood sugar.
More research is needed to confirm how periodontal disease can make it more difficult to control their blood sugar. What we do know is that severe periodontal disease can increase blood sugar, contributing to increased periods of time when your body functions with a high blood sugar. And, as a diabetic, you know that this puts you at an increased risk for diabetic complications.
In other words, controlling your periodontal disease may help you control your diabetes.
If you would like more information on periodontal disease or periodontal procedures in Savannah, GA please contact us
Women and Periodontal Health
Throughout a woman’s life, hormonal changes affect tissue throughout the body. Fluctuations in levels occur during puberty, pregnancy and menopause. At these times, the chance of periodontal disease may increase, requiring special care of your oral health.
During puberty, there is increased production of sex hormones. These higher levels increase gum sensitivity and lead to greater irritations from plaque and food particles. The gums can become swollen, turn red and feel tender.
Similar symptoms occasionally appear several days before menstruation. There can be bleeding of the gums, bright red swelling between the teeth and gum, or sores on the inside of the cheek. The symptoms clear up once the period has started. As the amount of sex hormones decrease, so do these problems.
Your gums and teeth are also affected during pregnancy. Between the second and eighth month, your gums may also swell, bleed and become red or tender. Large lumps may appear as a reaction to local irritants. However, these growths are generally painless and not cancerous. They may require professional removal, but usually disappear after pregnancy.
For a long time we’ve known that many risk factors contribute to mothers having babies that are born prematurely at a low birth weight- smoking, alcohol use, drug use and infections.
Now evidence is mounting that suggests a new risk factor- periodontal disease. Pregnant women who have periodontal disease may be seven times more likely to have a baby that is born too early and too small.
More research is needed to confirm how periodontal disease may affect pregnancy outcomes. What we do know is that periodontal disease is an infection and all infections are cause for concern among pregnant women because they pose a risk to the health of the baby.
Periodontal health should be part of prenatal care.
The best way to prevent periodontic infections is to begin with healthy gums and continue to maintain your oral health with proper home care and careful periodontic monitoring.
Swelling, bleeding and tenderness of the gums may also occur when you are taking oral contraceptives, which are synthetic hormones.
You must mention any prescriptions you are taking, including oral contraceptives, prior to medical or dental treatment. This will help eliminate risk of drug interactions, such as antibiotics with oral contraceptives – where the effectiveness of the contraceptive can be lessened.
Changes in the look and feel to your mouth may occur if you are menopausal or post-menopausal. They include feeling pain and burning in your gum tissue and salty, peppery or sour tastes.
Careful oral hygiene at home and professional cleaning may relieve these symptoms. There are also saliva substitutes to treat the effects of “dry mouth.”
Cardiovascular Disease and Periodontal Disease
For a long time we’ve known that bacteria may affect the heart.
Now evidence is mounting that suggests people with periodontal disease – a bacterial infection, may be more at risk for heart disease, and have nearly twice the risk of having a fatal heart attack, than patients without periodontal disease.
While more research is needed to confirm how periodontal bacteria may affect your heart, one possibility is that periodontal bacteria enter the blood through inflamed gums and cause small blood clots that contribute to clogged arteries.
Another possibility is that the inflammation caused by periodontal disease contributes to the buildup of fatty deposits inside heart arteries.
One out of every 5 Americans has one or more types of heart disease. If you are one of these Americans, or if you are at risk for periodontal disease, see Dr. Alvord, Dr. Rawlings and Dr. Young for a periodontal evaluation. Healthy gums may lead to a healthier body.
Respiratory Disease & Periodontal Disease
We know that people who smoke, are elderly, or have other health problems that suppress the immune system, are at increased risk for the development of respiratory diseases like pneumonia, bronchitis, emphysema and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
Now growing research is beginning to suggest a new risk factor – periodontal disease. If you have periodontal disease, you may be at increased risk for respiratory disease.
More research is needed to confirm how periodontal disease may put people at increased risk for respiratory disease. What we do know is that infections in the mouth, like periodontal disease, are associated with increased risk of respiratory infection.