Nearly 75% of all Americans have some form of periodontal (or gum) disease.
Research has also shown that up to 30% of the population is susceptible to gum disease despite good oral hygiene habits. The prevalence of common gum diseases, such as gingivitis and periodontitis, is not only concerning because of their dangerous dental health effects, but also because gum disease can be linked to more serious health conditions like heart disease. That is why our expert family and cosmetic dentists, Drs. DiStefano and Monash, consistently work to educate their patients in the Lansing area about the dangers of gum disease and how to prevent it.
Periodontal disease is essentially a chronic bacterial infection that affects the gums and bone supporting your teeth. It can affect one or many teeth and takes hold when bacteria and plaque causes the gums to become irritated and inflamed. Gingivitis is the mildest form of the disease, only causing minor swelling and bleeding, and can be treated with aggressive oral hygiene. Left untreated, gingivitis can develop into an advanced form of gum disease called periodontitis. Periodontitis causes the gums to separate from the teeth, forming pockets of infection under the gum line.
Periodontal Disease Symptoms may include the following:
- Occasional tissue swelling
- Occasional bleeding of the gum tissue
- Persistent bad taste in the mouth
- Continual bad breath
- Elongated tooth appearance
- Pockets between the tooth and gum tissue
- Teeth that seem loose of wobbly
You should realize that inflammation and destruction of bone support may not always be painful.
Periodontal disease can be a silent killer!
Factors that Increase the Risk of Developing Gum Disease
- Poor oral hygiene
- Smoking or chewing tobacco
- Crooked teeth that are hard to keep clean
- Medications, including steroids, certain types of anti-epilepsy drugs,cancer therapy drugs, some calcium channel blockers and oral contraceptives
Periodontal Disease Treatment
Proper oral hygiene is the first step in controlling periodontal disease. Good brushing and flossing habits should be established to help remove bacteria and plaque that accumulate above the gum line.
Your dental hygienist and dentist will treat your periodontal disease through a series of cleanings. Your dental hygienist will use dental instruments to disrupt bacteria that lies below the gum line. An ultrasonic scaling instrument will also be used to remove excessive debris and tartar build up. Antibiotics (Perio chip & Arestin) may be placed in your gum tissue pockets to help encourage healing.
Once bone destruction has taken place it is very difficult if not impossible to stimulate bone repair. Many individuals with periodontal disease require periodontal surgery to repair this areas.
Periodontal Disease Assessment and prognosis:
Your dentist and dental hygienist measure periodontal pockets using an instrument called the perio probe. This measuring instrument is placed between the tooth and the gum tissue. The depth of the measurement indicates the health of the gum tissue. 1-3mm in pocket depth indicates healthy gum tissue. 4mm and up indicates an inflamed or a diseased pocket. These measurements are recorded and used as a comparison tool from cleaning to cleaning appointment. Your dentist will utilize dental x-rays to observe bone changes around each tooth. These are also used as a comparison tool.
Periodontal disease is a very serious condition that needs be addressed immediately before it causes other health injuries and risks.
Periodontal Disease Prevention
Daily oral hygiene measures to prevent periodontal disease include:
- Brushing three times a day with an electric toothbrush will help disrupt bacteria and remove plaque. Remember to point the bristle towards the gum line.
- Flossing on a daily basis will help remove bacteria and plaque that hides in between the teeth.
- Mouth wash especially an antibacterial mouthwash is successful in reducing free floating bacteria, however this does not replace the need for flossing or brushing.
- Dental appointments for cleanings and exams are key to curbing the progression of this disease.
Periodontal patients should always remember that the key to successful periodontal maintenance is in their own hands. Personal home care habits are key to preventing further bone destruction.