WHAT IS PERIODONTAL DISEASE?
Periodontal Disease, also known as gum disease, is a bacterial infection that destroys the supporting structures of the teeth, including gingival fibres and bone.
There are two common types of periodontal disease: gingivitis and periodontitis. Occurrences can range from mild to severe. Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gum at the necks of the teeth. It often results in discomfort and bleeding, but it is a milder form of gum disease.
Periodontitis, on the other hand, is when inflammation affects the bone and tissues of the teeth. Mild or moderate periodontitis occurs when there are 4-6mm pockets between the teeth and soft tissues, which leads to the growth of bacteria. Advanced periodontitis occurs when the pockets have exceeded 6mm, and this can result in significant bone loss and shifting of the teeth.
Periodontal disease is most extreme when it results in loss of teeth. Missing teeth is a sign of significant bone loss, and therefore advanced treatments are used to assist in improving the attachment of teeth to the jawbone to restore their function.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS?
There are various signs that indicate you may be suffering from periodontal disease. These include:
- Bleeding when brushing/ flossing
- Redness, inflammation of the gum
- Bad taste or breath
- Loose or moving teeth
- Shifting teeth
- Tooth loss
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES?
Periodontal disease is a result of bacteria in dental plaque. While trying to get rid of the bacteria, your immune system will release various substances that tend to damage and inflame the gums. This is what causes you to experience swollen and/ or bleeding gums along with the other signs of gum disease.
There are various predisposing factors that may make a patient more susceptible. These include diabetes, a weakened immune system, smoking, and genetics. For example, patients that smoke are up to six times more likely to experience periodontitis in comparison to a non-smoker.
Interestingly enough, numerous studies have demonstrated periodontal disease is a risk factor in the aggravation of several systemic conditions. These include diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and osteoporosis. It may also lead to an increase in cardiovascular problems as well as problems with pregnancy, such as pre-term delivery and low birth weights.
HOW CAN YOU TREAT AND PREVENT PERIODONTAL DISEASE?
There are various things you can do to prevent it before it happens. The most important is to brush your teeth twice a day as well as floss regularly to remove plaque from in between your teeth. It is also important to visit your dentist routinely for a check-up and professional cleaning.
However, if you believe you may be suffering from periodontal disease, it is best to book an appointment with a periodontist. They will be able to diagnose your condition and decide on effective treatment options. Treatments may include deep cleaning techniques, such as scaling and root planning, or medications. Your periodontist may also suggest surgical treatments for advanced cases, which can include flap surgery and bone and tissue grafts.
Periodontal disease will only worsen if left untreated, so book an appointment right away if you believe you are suffering from this condition. Keeping up with your oral health is an important part of maintaining your overall health; don’t ignore the warning signs.