Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection which affects the gums and the bone supporting the teeth.
Types of Periodontal Disease:
Gingivitis is a mild form of periodontal disease that causes the gums to redden, swell and bleed easily. It does not include any loss of bone and/or tissue that hold teeth in place. Gingivitis is usually reversible with improved home care and regular cleanings by a dentist or dental hygienist. If untreated, gingivitis can advance to periodontitis.
Periodontitis, meaning “inflammation around the tooth”, is an advanced form of periodontal disease in which the gum tissue separates from the teeth and forms periodontal “pockets” that become infected. As the disease progresses, the pockets will deepen and there may be an increase in bone loss, loss of attachment and recession of tissue. Eventually, teeth can become loose and may have to be removed.
Periodontitis may be aggressive or chronic:
Aggressive Periodontitis is a form of periodontitis that occurs in patients who are otherwise clinically healthy. It is characterized by rapid attachment loss and bone destruction.
Chronic Periodontitis is the most frequently occurring form of periodontitis. It is most common in adults, but can occur at any age.
Periodontitis can also be a manifestation of systemic diseases, e.g. diabetes.
Necrotizing Periodontal Diseases.
These are characterized by the death of gum tissue, periodontal ligament, and alveolar bone. These lesions are most commonly observed in individuals with systemic conditions, including, but not limited to, HIV infection, malnutrition, and immunosuppression.
Symptoms of Periodontal Disease:
Occasional redness or bleeding of the gums when brushing, flossing, or eating. May occur even with gingivitis.
Occasional swelling of the gums.
Halitosis (bad breath) and a bad taste in the mouth.
Recession of gum tissue. Can be noticed by apparent lengthening of the teeth.
Deep pockets between the teeth and the gums.
Loose teeth. Occurs in later stages of periodontal disease.
Plaque. This sticky, colorless substance, formed by bacteria, is the primary cause of gum disease. Plaque is usually removed during brushing and flossing. If not removed, plaque turns into calculus (previously known as tartar). Only a professional cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist can remove calculus. The longer plaque and calculus remain on the teeth, the more harmful they become.
Smoking/ tobacco use.Tobacco use is one of the most significant risk factors for periodontal disease.
Genetics. Up to 30 percent of the population may be genetically susceptible to gum disease.
Pregnancy and puberty. Hormonal changes affect all tissues of the body. One result is that the gums are more susceptible to disease.
Stress. When under stress, it is more difficult for the body to fight off infection.
Medications.Certain medications, such as oral contraceptives, anti-depressants and heart medicine, can affect your oral health. Notify your dental care provider of all medications you are taking.
Diabetes. People with diabetes are at higher risk for developing infections, including gum disease.
Illnesses. Diseases like cancer or AIDS and their treatments can also affect the health of gums.
Who Gets Periodontal Disease?
An estimated 80 percent of American adults have some form of the disease.
People often don’t get symptoms of periodontal disease until they are ~ 30 or 40.
Men are more likely to have periodontal disease than women.
*** Periodontal disease is a condition that cannot be cured, but with proper home care and regular visits to the periodontist it can be controlled. Three to four month periodontal maintenance visits and periodic examinations can maintain your condition and help prevent further deterioration of the bone which can result in loss of teeth.
Controlling Your Periodontal Disease:
Brush properly on a regular basis (at least twice daily), directing the bristles underneath the gum line, so as to disrupt bacterial growth and plaque formation.
Clean behind the last tooth in each quadrant.
Use interdental brushes if there is a gap between teeth.
Use an antiseptic mouthwash. (Alcohol based mouthwash may aggravate the condition.)
Eat a well balanced diet.
Regularly receive dental check-ups and professional teeth cleanings.