Periodontal Disease

Healthy teeth and gumsThere are many afflictions that can affect the health and function of our teeth. That’s why oral hygiene is so important! Whether it’s smiling at an acquaintance or biting into a delicious meal, our teeth are used for so many purposes.

To keep your smile healthy and your teeth strong it’s important to follow a regular brushing and flossing routine. If you let your guard down, it’s possible that one of the many oral health culprits could step in and slowly deteriorate your teeth and gums. Periodontal disease is one such known disease and is actually quite common amongst the adult population.

What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease, or periodontitis, is an advanced infection of the teeth, gums and other tissues within the mouth. The precursor to periodontal disease is gingivitis, which is an inflammation of the gums that results from bacteria and a buildup of plaque on the teeth. Gingivitis is quite common and can easily occur when brushing and flossing are not effective at removing plaque from the teeth.

Gingivitis usually starts off with tender, swollen gums that may bleed when you brush or floss your teeth. However, as plaque continues to build up on your teeth, and below the gum line, the infection can grow and lead to worsening symptoms, including:

  • Ongoing tooth pain
  • Red gums
  • Bad breath
  • Loosening teeth
  • Gums pulling away from the teeth

At this stage, periodontal disease, which can cause permanent and irreparable damage to the tissues within the mouth and the supporting structures of the teeth, has set in. In time, advanced decay is likely to cause damaged teeth to fall out.

What Are Common Causes or Risk Factors Tied to Periodontal Disease?

Gum disease is caused by various contributing factors, including genetic predisposition, mouth shape, existing dental work and tobacco use, among others. Thus, the exact cause and severity of periodontitis will be different from one person to the next. Different medications and hormones have also been known to lead to gum disease.

For all of these reasons, it’s incredibly important to see your dentist regularly and to report any changes in your oral health. With regular check-ups your dentist can keep her eye on advances in plaque build-up or removal and, if necessary, work with you on a brushing and flossing regiment to combat any pre-existing gingivitis.

Treatment for Periodontal Disease

Treatment for gingivitis is often as simple as brushing, flossing and regularly visiting your dentist. However, if the periodontitis has caused too much damage to the bone and supporting ligaments of your teeth, it may be too late to fix.

But, don’t despair! Your dentist will assess your current oral health before deciding on the appropriate treatment plan, which may try to combat the advancing disease. A few of the different periodontal disease treatments that your dentist may employ include:

  • More regular dental visits to monitor the spread or removal of plaque
  • Nonsurgical scaling and root planning
  • Oral surgery to remove permanently damaged teeth
  • Pocket reduction surgery, to reduce space between teeth and gum tissue
  • Gum grafts to cover exposed roots and stimulate healthy tissue growth

Prevention of Periodontal Disease

It should not be surprising to hear that the most effective method of periodontal disease prevention is through dental self-care. The most important thing you can do to stave off gingivitis and periodontitis is to brush and floss your teeth regularly.

It is also suggested that you quit smoking or chewing tobacco, especially if you’ve already been told you have gingivitis or periodontal disease. And, lastly, don’t forget to make regular appointments with your dentist to uphold the health of your teeth and gums.

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