Periodontal Disease, also known as gum disease, is an infection of the gums and surrounding tissues caused by bacteria in plaque. It can range from mild inflammation of the gums to a more serious condition, which can lead to tooth loss and other health problems. Common symptoms include red, swollen gums that bleed easily when brushing or flossing, receding gums, bad breath, and loose teeth. If left untreated, periodontal disease may progress to form pockets between the teeth and gums where bacteria live causing further damage to the tissue and jawbone.
Dealing with periodontal diseases is not something to be taken lightly; moreover, unless managed wisely, it may lead to other health-related illnesses in addition to those associated with the mouth including diabetes, heart illness and preterm, low-weight infants.
While not yet conclusive by medical science as to a correlation between periodontal disease and other health-related issues, preventing periodontal disease can definitely prevent loss of your teeth.
In this article below, a breakdown of the following vital information will better help you to first avoid the illnesses and then know how best to treat it.
What Are Its Symptoms
Symptoms of periodontal disease may include red, inflamed gums, persistent bad breath, bleeding gums, loose teeth that feel sensitive when chewing or even when brushing and a receding gum line. Once a receding gum line is noted by an oral physician, consider it a sure indication of advancing Gingivitis or worse yet, Periodontitis.
Periodontal Disease: Its Nature
Although Gingivitis or gum inflammation, does not necessarily lead to a more advanced case of Periodontitis in all cases, it frequently does precede advanced Periodontitis. A far more serious disease than Gingivitis, Periodontitis has a high likelihood of turning into something that damages or destroys the bone matter supporting the teeth and further causes deep pockets between the gum and teeth.
Periodontitis has three distinct phases: Chronic Periodontitis, aggressive Periodontitis, disease-related Periodontitis and necrotizing Periodontitis, which is the most common form of Periodontitis. Although Periodontitis begins in adolescence, it does not typically become significant until the mid-30s.
Periodontal Disease: Its Causes
The causes of Periodontal disease can be said to originate with insufficient oral hygiene that allows plaque built up in the mouth and surrounding oral cavity. Left unchecked, harmful bacteria accumulates in thickness until they form plaque, a yellowish-white film that sticks to the teeth and adjacent gums.
Eventually, this plaque buildup causes a gum infection. When not removed, the plaque further forms into calculus or rock-hard tartar which must be removed by an oral physician.
Other than plaque buildup and a lack of proper hygiene, other contributing factors also involved as causes of periodontal diseases include age, tobacco use, hormonal changes, autoimmune diseases and medications or over medication of prescribed drugs.
Is periodontal disease contagious?
While not truly considered contagious, it is better to side with caution. Contact with a loved one’s saliva, eating utensils or drinking cups may expose persons to another person’s underlying medical condition like diabetes, HIV and/or other immune system diseases.
Likewise, if they’re undergoing hormonal changes or they are taking a medication for some other illness, they may be a risk factor in transmitting that gum disease from a suppressed immune system host to someone in your family. Interestingly, Periodontal disease many times appears in members of the same family or blood relatives including one’s cousins, brothers, sisters, grandparents, parents and uncles/aunts as well.
How To Cure Periodontal Disease
Realistically speaking, there is no known cure for periodontal disease other than the below mentioned few treatments: remedial treatments, intensive hygienic practices and comprehensive treatment by oral physicians. Generally, the US population gets high ratings for good oral hygiene which can reduce the inflammatory conditions; however, any accompanying bone loss is often thought to be irreversible.
Through the centuries, rinsing several times a day with warm salt water resulted in keeping the mouth sanitized of harmful bacteria. Today, brushing and flossing helps immensely, but the treatment of periodontal disease requires more than simple brushing and flossing when planning a strategy against these types of diseases.
Today, nonsurgical approaches, surgical approaches and restorative procedures come to the forefront in treating or curing periodontal disease.
In nonsurgical protocols, there is a scaling and root planning from the gum line and tooth surfaces. This foundational procedure calls for extensive deep cleaning of tartar and bacteria and may warrant the topical use of antibiotics or using antibiotics of a more systemic nature.
Removing calculus in nonsurgical protocols may call for either manual or ultrasonic methods. With an ultrasonic device, the instrument gives forth a high frequency vibration that helps loosen and scrape off the tartar. Followed by a high-pressure water spray to further flush out debris, this technique is usually reserved for the more severe cases of tartar removal.
During a manual treatment, scraper tools scrape away minor tartar buildup and the treatment is completed with a polishing of the tooth with a compounded paste. It is this polishing procedure that results in a smooth tooth surface making plaque buildup harder to stick to the teeth and gum line.
In a surgical treatment, common techniques such as periodontal pocket reduction, gum grafts, bone grafts and tissue regeneration are many times used. After surgery, patients typically rinse their mouths with salted warm water to reduce inflammation due to possible post-surgical discomfort or pain. Over-the-counter (OTC) medications such as ibuprofen or the use of ice bags are the indicated course of treatment for any post surgery.
Restorative treatment sometimes calls for dental implants where lost teeth or bone matter is already lost due to the advance of the disease. Other typical restorative procedures include the use of bridges to replace a missing tooth by “bridging” the teeth on either side of the missing tooth.
A two-appointment procedure, acrylic bridges are used temporarily as the other permanent set is fashioned in a lab. At other times, crown replacements may be warranted as are other procedures determined by the nature and degree of the periodontal disease.
How To Prevent Periodontal Disease
In real estate, the commonly used term would be, “It’s about location, location and location!” In referring to periodontal disease, the term would be, “It’s about hygiene, hygiene and more hygiene!” Consistent, regular oral hygiene at home, work and/or even while on a vacation, are crucially important in laying the best foundation for periodontal disease prevention.
That being said, according to the American Dental Association(ADA), brushing with a fluoride toothpaste should be done at least three times a day and followed by regular flossing in between the teeth.
Being certain to replace the toothbrush every one to three months, the ADA also recommends that everyone, children two to three years of age included, go to regular oral exams/cleanings at least twice a year. Furthermore, eating a nourishing, sugar-free diet with limited in between snacking is vitally important, as is eliminating all smoking.
Some further interesting facts…
More than 50 percent of the US adult population has Gingivitis; moreover, Periodontitis is found in the remaining 30 percent or more of those afflicted with periodontal disease. Worse yet, five percent of those with Periodontitis have it in the more advanced and aggressive forms of the disease. That said, typical costs for full-blown surgery and treatment comes in between about $4,000 to $5,000.
While an oral physician is both the first line of defense and counter-offense in combating advancing periodontal diseases, patients sometimes receive referrals to a periodontist who specializes in treating periodontal disease.
Either way, it’s still all about using “hygiene, hygiene and more hygiene” to ward off periodontal diseases that may end up in tooth loss for many unfortunate patients.