What is periodontal disease? It is a disease that affects the structures around the teeth. You may have heard of it being referred to as gum disease. That’s correct but it affects more than just the gums. In its early stages, it shows up as inflammation of the gums. When left untreated, it progresses to involve the bone and ligaments around the teeth.
The early stage is known as Gingivitis. This is a common and milder form of the disease. It is largely preventable. Brushing twice a day, flossing and going for regular professional scaling (cleaning) can reduce or completely eliminate the condition and prevent its progression to Periodontitis.
Periodontitis is the more serious form of this disease. It a serious gum infection that damages the soft tissue and destroys the bone around the teeth. Periodontitis can lead to tooth loss or worse – an increased risk of stroke or heart attack and other serious health problems.
So how do you recognize it? And what can you do about it?
First, it’s important to know what leads to periodontal disease. What is the main culprit?
The primary cause is a dental biofilm commonly known as plaque. It usually consists of disease-causing bacteria and a matrix that helps these bacteria stick to dental surfaces. Food particles and bacterial endotoxins are commonly present in the mouth.
There are other risk factors that can increase one’s chances of developing periodontal disease. These can be local or systemic. Local causes include poor oral health habits, mouth breathing, crowding, poor restorations, dry mouth (due to medication), and tobacco use. Systemic causes include diabetes, poor nutrition, hormonal changes, and decreased immunity.
As to its symptoms, gum disease exhibits signs such as red or swollen gums, tender or bleeding gums especially when brushing, receding gums, loose teeth, persistent bad breath, unpleasant taste, painful chewing, and sensitive teeth.
Gum disease is diagnosed by the dentist or hygienist as they will review your medical and dental history, examine your gums for signs of inflammation, measure the depth of the pockets between gums and teeth to assess for attachment loss, note bleeding and recession, and check for bone loss radiographically.
The treatment of gum disease takes the following forms: First, an initial ultrasonic and manual scaling to remove the biofilm and encourage healing, followed by regular interval maintenance and good homecare practices to maintain the health of the gums. Second, advanced stages may require antibiotic therapy as well. And third, if the disease is too advanced or does not respond to nonsurgical therapy, a referral to a periodontist is needed for possible surgical treatment.
Here is a video on periodontal disease:
Remember, it is never too late to start a healthy oral hygiene routine. Call Strathcona today if you sense you might have any of the symptoms discussed above. Treatment is much more successful in early stages.