Gum disease is associated with a bacteria known as ‘Porphyromonas gingivalis’ which is found in cavities. The secondary cause of gum disease is associated with bad eating habits and bad oral hygiene such as not brushing your teeth on a regular basis, not flossing, and not visiting a hygienist on a regular basis.
Gum disease starts out as gingivitis, which is an inflammation of the gums caused by bacteria build up from plaque and tartar. Typical symptoms include irritation, redness and some swelling if it is really bad. More often than not, gingivitis is induced by poor oral hygiene due to the lack of brushing, flossing and dentist visits.
Periodontitis is a more serious version of gingivitis. If gingivitis is not treated, the gum line starts to break down exposing entire teeth. The gum line and bone start to decay causing teeth to become loose and eventually tooth loss may occur. In essence, plaque starts to build up between the bone and the gum line between teeth infecting the tissue. This causes pockets of destroyed gum and bone leaving the teeth unsupported.
The symptoms of gum disease, including periodontal disease, include the following:
- Bad breath
- Redness along the gum line
- Swelling of the gums
- Loose teeth
- Pockets between teeth
- Receding gum lines
All or some of these symptoms may be present depending on how serious the disease is and how long the infection and/or inflammation has lasted.
The main cause of periodontal disease is plaque; therefore, the main culprit is poor oral hygiene. Remember, plaque occurs after you eat starches and sugars. If you do not brush and floss on a regular basis, the plaque will develop into as it hardens. This process only takes two to three days. It is more difficult for us to remove tartar which is why it is important that we receive two deep cleanings a year. Hygienists have tools that can remove plaque and tartar that we cannot get rid of ourselves. The longer plaque and tartar remain on your teeth, the more damage it does to your gums.
Other causes besides poor hygiene are those out of your control, such as hormonal changes. During pregnancy, ovulation, menstruation and puberty your gums are going to be extra sensitive. This is a perfect time for genitives to develop; therefore, be extra careful during these periods of time to ensure you stay current on your brushing, flossing and dental appointments.
Medications are another element that can affect your oral hygiene in ways you did not even think of. Some medication causes drying of the mouth, a reduction in saliva, irritation of gums, etc. Pay close attention to new medications that you take to see if any of these have an effect on your mouth and teeth.
A diagnosis of periodontal disease is generally easy to determine. First, a physical examination of your mouth is performed to look for plaque and tartar build up, gum redness and swelling, and bleeding. To determine the severity of the disease dentists will measure the depth of each pocket between your teeth and gums. At times x-rays will be performed to look for any bone loss. The dedentist will also ask for a general description of your symptoms such as tenderness, sensitivity, bleeding, etc.
If all of those check out, a simple diagnosis can be made for periodontal disease and a treatment can be determined.
Treatment for periodontal is pretty simple and straightforward, but it is up to the patient how quickly he or she can resolve the issue. The key to reversing periodontal disease is good oral hygiene. Patients need to start brushing after they eat meals, so two to three times a day. Flossing will need to become a daily ritual as well to keep from causing any more damage.
Some invasive procedures that will need to be performed are . Scaling removes all excess tarter and plaque between your teeth and underneath gum lines. Root planing smooths all root surfaces to keep from allowing any further buildup of tartar and plaque.
Antibiotics may be used such as topical ointments or oral rinses to help disinfect your mouth and break down bacterial infections. The rinses help clean everything between the teeth that are hard to reach. Depending on how serious the diseases is sometimes topical ointments are put into the pockets between teeth.
If the periodontal disease has become too serious surgical procedures may be necessary to thoroughly clean your gum lines. At times the amount of gum line tissue that is damaged is so severe that soft tissue grafts are necessary to reduce further gum recession and cover exposed roots. If you have tooth loss, you may even need a bone graft to help hold your teeth into place.
The type of treatment needed will depend on the severity of the disease which will be determined during your diagnosis. Various dental clinics offer treatment options, but has a very experienced doctor that can explain everything to you.
Periodontal disease can be scary, but it is something you can treat and reverse with the right treatment plan. It is important that you understand what oral hygiene is and how to incorporate that into your daily routine so that you can prevent gum disease in the future.