How can I tell if I have gingivitis or periodontitis (gum disease)?
Four out of five people have periodontal disease and don’t know it! Most people are not aware of it because the disease is usually painless in the early stages. Unlike tooth decay, which often causes discomfort, it is possible to have periodontal disease without noticeable symptoms. Having regular dental check-ups and periodontal examinations are very important and will help detect if periodontal problems exist.
Periodontal disease begins when plaque, a sticky, colorless, film of bacteria, food debris, and saliva, is left on the teeth and gums. The bacteria produce toxins (acids) that inflame the gums and slowly destroy the bone. Brushing and flossing regularly and properly will ensure that plaque is not left behind to do its damage.
Other than poor oral hygiene, there are several other factors that may increase the risk of developing periodontal disease:
Many medications – Steroids, cancer therapy drugs, blood pressure meds, oral contraceptives. Some medications have side affects that reduce saliva, making the mouth dry and plaque easier to adhere to the teeth and gums.
Pregnancy, oral contraceptives, and puberty – Can cause changes in hormone levels, causing gum tissue to become more sensitive to bacteria toxins.
Signs and Symptoms of Periodontal Disease
Good oral hygiene, a balanced diet, and regular dental visits can help reduce your risk of developing periodontal disease.
What does heart disease and other medical conditions have to do with periodontal (gum) disease?
Many people are unaware that having periodontal disease (the destruction of gum tissue and bone that hold our teeth in place) can affect your overall health. Periodontal disease is one of the most common infections; often more prevalent than the common cold! Periodontal disease is not only the number one reason people lose teeth; it can also affect the health of your body!
Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection, and in its earliest stages, it’s called gingivitis. It starts when an accumulation of plaque (a colony of bacteria, food debris, and saliva) is NOT regularly removed from the gums and teeth. The bacteria in plaque produce toxins/acids that irritate and infect the gums and eventually destroy the jaw bone that supports the teeth. When periodontal disease is not treated it can eventually lead to tooth loss!
There are numerous studies that have looked into the correlation between gum disease and major medical conditions. These studies suggest people with periodontal disease are at a greater risk of systemic disease and indicate that periodontal disease may cause oral bacteria to enter the bloodstream and travel to major organs and begin new infections. Research suggests that periodontal bacteria in the blood stream may:
Contribute to the development of heart disease
Increase the risk of stroke
Compromise the health of those that have diabetes or respiratory diseases
Increase a woman’s risk of having a preterm, low-birth weight baby
Researchers conclude there is still much research to be done to understand the link between periodontal disease and systemic diseases, but enough research has been done to support that infections in the mouth can play havoc elsewhere in the body.
To ensure a healthy, disease-free mouth, we recommend the importance of regular dental check-ups and cleanings, which include a periodontal evaluation. Also, diligent home care and a proper diet can help reduce the plaque and bacteria in the mouth.
Remember….the mouth body connection! Taking care of your oral health may contribute to your overall medical health!
What is periodontal maintenance?
After your mouth is restored to health, you still require monitoring. Periodontal disease is controlled, not cured. Regular maintenance can ensure disease control by eliminating bacteria on a more frequent schedule.
Why do I have to alternate my maintenance between my general dentist and a periodontist?
The primary job of a periodontist is to monitor the health of your gums and assess your homecare to evaluate control of gum disease. Your general dentist is, in a sense, a specialist in detecting cavities and restoring diseased teeth. He or she will pay special attention to your restorative needs.
What kinds of things can I do to prevent gum disease?
First and foremost, if you are a smoker, quit! Studies have shown that smoking does numerous things that increases your risk for gum disease and tooth loss. Uncontrolled diabetes will also put you at significant risk for gum disease and tooth loss. Coming in for regular maintenance and taking good care of your teeth at home are of significant benefit.
What is guided tissue regeneration?
Guided tissue regeneration is a technique to restore structures that may have been lost due to disease. There are several ways to accomplish this. It is the preferred method of treating periodontal disease, but it is not possible in every case.
What benefits does an implant offer as opposed to a bridge?
A bridge is essentially two teeth that are holding an artificial one between them. These two teeth have crowns (caps) on them to hold the artificial one in place. If you get a cavity on one of them, you need to replace the whole bridge. In addition, all bridgework will eventually need to be replaced. A
dental implant does not require placing crowns on teeth that do not even need them. If the crown on the implant needs to be replaced for some reason, you are simply replacing one, not three, as you would with a bridge.
There are several other benefits that can be specific to the case. Ask your
dentist how they can benefit you.