Periodontal dentistry deals with the supporting structures and tissue surrounding the teeth as well as diagnosis and treatment of various gum diseases. The decay of the teeth located both over and under the gum tissue acts as an irritant. The resulting inflammation of the gum is called gingivitis. Periodontitis is an inflammation of the bone when the infection starts to destroy the gums and bone.
If your face bled when you washed it, you’d be concerned. However, many people think it’s normal for their gums to bleed when they brush their teeth. Many adults over 30 years have bleeding gums, which is one of the first signs that teeth are infected with bacteria. If no preventative measures are taken, the infection can spread and destroy the structures that support the teeth in the jawbone. Eventually, your teeth may become so loose they will most likely fall out.
“Peri”’ means around, and “dontal” means teeth. Periodontal disease is, therefore, an infection of the structures around your teeth. These structures include the gums, the root, the periodontal ligament and the bone. In the early stages of the disease, infection only affects the gums and is commonly known as gingivitis. In the late stages, all the surrounding structures are affected.
What Causes Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is mainly caused by a build-up of bacteria in dental plaque, as well as tartar, which is hardened plaque. Plaque is a sticky substance that builds up when foods rich in carbohydrates, such as sugars and starches, are left on the teeth. To get rid of the bacteria, your immune system releases substances that end up damaging the gums, the root, the periodontal ligament, and the bone. This leads to bleeding and swollen gums, a sign of gingivitis. Further damage results in the teeth becoming loose, a sign of periodontal disease.
Risk factors that contribute to contracting periodontal disease include:
- Smoking: Smoking is one of the leading risk factors for the development of periodontal disease. Also, smoking can lower the chances of successful treatment.
- Hormonal Changes in Women: Hormonal changes, particularly during pregnancy, can make gums more sensitive, making it easier for gingivitis to develop.
- Diabetes: People who have diabetes are more likely to develop infections in their gums.
- Other Illnesses and Treatments: Diseases like AIDS and cancer — and their treatments — can negatively affect the health of gums.
- Genetic Susceptibility: Some people are more likely to develop gum disease than others due to their genetic predisposition.
Who Is Most Likely To Get Periodontal Disease?
Most people don’t show any signs of periodontal disease until they reach the age of 30 or 40. Men are more likely to develop the disease than women, and teenagers rarely get periodontitis. However, they can develop gingivitis. Most commonly, periodontal disease develops when plaque builds up along and under the gum to an extent where it compromises the structures around the teeth.
Signs of periodontal disease include:
- Red and swollen gums
- Tender or bleeding gums
- Loose or sensitive teeth
- Bad breath that doesn’t go away
- Receding gums and shaky teeth
How Is Periodontal Disease Treated?
Our oral health care professionals remove the plaque using a deep-cleaning method called scaling. Scaling involves scouring off the plaque above and under the gum.
Medications may also be used along with scaling. Depending on how far the disease has progressed, the dentist may recommend surgical treatment. All treatments require the patient to maintain good levels of hygiene at home. The doctor may also suggest a decrease in or elimination of habits like smoking to improve the outcome.
How to Prevent Periodontal Disease
You can prevent periodontal disease by maintaining high standards of oral hygiene and visiting the dentist regularly. We recommend that most patients see the dentist at least once every six months. But, if you already have periodontal disease, you should see the dentist more often.
If done correctly, daily brushing and regular flossing can help get rid of plaque build-up around your teeth. On the other hand, professional dental cleaning will keep plaque under control in places where the toothbrush or floss can’t reach.
If you have any questions, contact Dental Choice at our Calgary or Edmonton offices to book a free consultation with one of our dentists today.