Periodontal Disease

The Most Frequent Reason for Tooth Loss

You should be informed that most tooth loss is due to periodontal disease or bacterial infection of the gums. Teeth that are not cleaned properly will, over time, develop gum problems. Sometimes there is no pain or symptoms up to the point of losing your teeth. Bleeding gums when brushing or flossing and loose teeth are signs of gum disease. If this infection is reversed in the early stages, there are methods other than surgery to take care of the problem. In advanced cases, surgery will most likely be necessary.

Gum Disease Linked to Life-Threatening Conditions

Medical research has revealed another result of gum infection. The bacteria in gums travels throughout the bloodstream to have an effect on serious health conditions like stroke, diabetes, and heart disease. As estimated by the American Dental Association, 80% of Americans have periodontal (gum) disease at some stage. Dentists are now regarding this as a major health epidemic. It is more serious than losing your teeth. The American Academy of Periodontology reports,”studies found periodontal infection may contribute to the development of heart disease, increase the risk of premature, underweight births, and pose a serious threat to people whose health is already compromised due to diabetes and respiratory diseases.”

Periodontal Disease and Its Symptoms

What are the symptoms of periodontal disease? In its early stages, one can have periodontal disease without being aware of it. This is why it is very necessary for people to get regular dental checkups and evaluations so that a trained professional in the field of dentistry can identify if the individual has periodontal disease. As periodontal disease progresses and the periodontal infection gets worse, an individual will be able to recognize that he or she has periodontal disease by the following signs and symptoms:

  • The chronic presence of bad breath and gingivitis
  • Red, irritated, and swollen gums
  • Gums bleeding after brushing (a toothbrush may appear reddish or pink after brushing)
  • Sore and achy gums
  • Itchy gums
  • Gum recession (individual’s teeth will have a longer appearance than usual)
  • Pain and irritation upon flossing
  • Increasing gaps forming between the teeth
  • Tooth loosening and tooth loss
  • Improperly fitting dentures or appliances
  • Minor to significant changes in one’s jaw-line or bite
  • Difficulty eating and chewing
  • Tooth sensitivity

Any of the above symptoms, either singularly or combined, is an indication that an individual should seek out a professional like a certified periodontist. The signs listed above are indicative of periodontal infection, which requires treatment in order to restore one’s oral health. One should contact a general dentist or certified periodontist as soon as possible to schedule an evaluation and to develop a plan of treatment.

Potential Causes of Periodontal Disease

Plaque and Tartar Build Up

So what causes periodontal disease or gum disease? There are several things that can cause one to get periodontal disease; one of the primary causes however is plaque and the bacteria that lives and thrives in plaque. Plaque is constantly forming in one’s mouth and sticking to one’s teeth. Appropriate removal through brushing and flossing can help to reduce the amount of plaque in one’s mouth, but sometimes even these precautionary measures are not enough. Regular dental checkups and cleanings can also help reduce the amount of plaque buildup on one’s teeth. Nevertheless, sometimes as people age, issues with periodontal disease arise. This is where the services offered by a professional periodontist can work for you, helping you keep your smile, your mouth, and your entire body healthier.

Tobacco Use, Smoking, and Periodontal Disease

It is well known that smoking is bad for you, but did you know that it actually plays a role in the onset of periodontal disease? In addition to causing diseases such as cancer and heart disease, smoking is responsible for a variety of health issues including periodontal disease. Studies have revealed that when an individual smokes, the likelihood that the individual will get periodontal disease increases tremendously, and once periodontal disease develops, smoking can hasten the progression of gum disease as well. To completely understand the role smoking plays in the onset and perpetuation of gum disease, take a look at the American Academy of Periodontology’s write up on Tobacco Use and Periodontal Disease.

Genetics and Periodontal Disease

Studies are revealing the role that genetics have in the onset of gum disease. Recently noted is the fact that just under one-third of the population, as much as 30% of all people will get gum disease because they are genetically predisposed to get it. Even with good oral hygiene and regular checkups, it is possible for people to get gum disease. For those individuals that are genetically predisposed to periodontal disease, early intervention is needed for successful treatment. The appropriate periodontal care will ensure that the individual can maintain maximum oral health as well as keep their natural teeth for the rest of their natural lives.

Pregnancy, Puberty, Menopause, and Gum Disease

Women face unique health needs and this includes unique dental needs as well. While a woman can take care of herself with appropriate diet and exercise, a good oral hygiene regimen, and regular care from a physician as well as a professional dentist, it is still very possible to develop gum disease. In fact, there are certain stages in a woman’s life where the potential for developing gum disease increase: such stages include puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. Hormonal changes have a significant role in the types of health needs that a woman has; when hormonal changes affect a woman’s body it can have an overall effect on a woman’s bodily tissues and such tissues include the gums. In fact, in some instances, hormonal changes can affect a woman’s gums and make them ultrasensitive, tender, and more prone to develop gum disease. Gum disease has a terrible effect on women and their bodies. Researchers are now discovering just how bad gum disease can be; there are studies currently revealing that women with periodontal disease are seven times more apt to have babies delivered preterm and/or with low birth weights. Thus, women must address their unique bodily needs in terms of health care, and seek out the professional care of a qualified dentist and/or the best periodontist. For further understanding about women, women’s health, and periodontal disease, read the American Academy of Periodontology’s publication entitled Protecting Oral Health Throughout Your Life.

Periodontal Disease and Stress

Stress is responsible for the onset of many harmful conditions, including periodontal disease. Stress not only causes high blood pressure, cardiac health issues, and is also believed to be linked with certain types of cancers, but stress also increases the likelihood that one will develop gum disease. Stress has a direct affect on one’s immune system functioning which, in turn, weakens one’s ability to fend off infection: including periodontal infection and periodontal disease.

Medications and Gum Disease Onset

Believe it or not, even certain medications may increase the likelihood that an individual will get periodontal disease. For instance, a heavy reliance on antibiotics can weaken one’s immune system and one’s ability to fight infection. Oral contraceptives, the use of heart medications, and the use of anti-depressants may also play a role in the onset of gum disease. A professional Periodontist can determine if your medicines are placing you at a higher risk for getting gum disease and can help you implement changes to prevent gum disease in the future.

Teeth Grinding and Teeth Clenching

When you grind or clench your teeth on a regular basis, you are doing more than merely damaging your teeth over time. You could be increasing the chances of getting gum disease. Excessive force on your teeth also affects the surrounding tissues of your teeth as well and can increase the rate in which such tissues are destroyed. Teeth grinding and teeth clenching are treatable conditions, and as such, should be remedied so that you lessen your chances for getting gum disease in the future.

Periodontal Issues and Diabetes

A disease like Diabetes has a number of different effects on the individual. First, sugar levels are altered in the individual that has diabetes. The onset of Diabetes occurs when there is not enough insulin in one’s body or the body does not utilize the insulin it has correctly. Either way, Diabetes is a disease that opens up an individual to a whole host of other issues, including increased infections. The American Diabetes Association suggests that more than 16+ million U.S. citizens actually have the disease, but only a mere 8 million are aware that they have it. As a Diabetic, an individual can get gum disease with relative ease, and gum disease in a Diabetic can prove worse than gum disease in an individual that does not have Diabetes; thus, care by the best dental professional one can find is necessary. For complete details about the medical consequences associated with diabetics that get periodontal disease ask at your next visit to our office.

What is Periodontal Therapy?

Sometimes a regular prophylaxis just isn’t enough. A number of factors – oral hygiene practices at home, systemic diseases, genetics and pregnancy included – can cause you to fall somewhere on the spectrum of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is, simply, infection of the gums due to the continued presence of harmful bacteria in the mouth. It can range from mild gingivitis, where the gums are inflamed due to the bacteria but no permanent damage has been done, to severe periodontitis, where you’ve likely already had significant loss of gum attachment, bone loss and tooth loss from the present active infection. In these cases, depending on how far the periodontal disease has progressed, you may need a referral to a periodontist. We work with a couple of extremely talented professionals in the area if this is the case. If the disease has been caught early enough, we can provide active periodontal therapy in our office, known as scaling and root planing. The process is as follows:

  • 2-4 visits of active therapy: our hygienists will treat each quadrant of your mouth (upper left, lower right, etc.) separately. Often one whole side of the mouth can be treated in one visit, but sometimes the cleaning is complex enough to warrant 4 separate sessions. In these visits, any dental plaque, calculus and associated bacteria will be removed both above and below the gum line. They’ll also use a dental laser During and after this therapy, you’ll be given an antibiotic mouth rinse to use twice daily and detailed oral hygiene home care instructions. At each visit, your hygienist will also recheck and quickly sweep through the previously treated quadrants.
  • 4-6 weeks after you’ve finished the active therapy, we’ll bring you back for a re-evaluation and periodontal maintenance visit. Here we recheck your periodontal charting (a series of measurements designed to tell us how well attached your gums are to your teeth, and subsequently their overall level of health), re-evaluate the tissues and perform a periodontal maintenance prophylaxis (both sub and supra gingival). Ideally at this visit we’ve got great news for you – the therapy has worked, your home care has improved (we can’t get you healthy all on our own!) and your overall oral health is looking much brighter.
  • After these sessions, we need to keep seeing you regularly to avoid a recurrence of periodontal infection. Usually this means periodontal maintenance visits every 3 to 4 months; since everyone is a little different, our hygienists and Dr. Sunny Pahouja will work with you to determine the best course of action.

Contact us to set up an evaluation via email at [email protected] or Lifetime Smiles: Sunny Pahouja, DDS Phone Number 513-661-8586. We are pleased to assist you with your periodontal and dental needs.