Periodontal Disease

Description: 85% of adult population is affected with gum disease. Gum disease is classified by swelling or soreness of the gums (the soft tissue) around your teeth.  It is caused by the bacteria in plaque, a sticky, colorless film that forms on your teeth.  This multiplication of bacteria release toxins that inflame the gums. This results in gingivitis, the earliest and still reversible stage of periodontal disease.

If you do not remove plaque by brushing and flossing your teeth, it can build up and infect not only your gums and teeth, but also the bone that supports them.  If not treated by a dentist, you can lose your teeth due to your body’s response to the bacteria infection.

Gingivitis is the earliest stage of periodontal disease and can be reversed with gum therapy appointments and good oral home care. Advanced stages of perio disease cannot be completely cured, but can be controlled and managed with maintenance. Once bone loss occurs, it cannot be reversed, only maintained.  Treating Periodontal Disease is very important to prevent further bone loss that can lead to tooth loss.

bad breath - periodontal diseaseTo find out if you have gum disease, your dentist or hygienist needs to check your teeth and gums.  Since early gum disease can be reversed, it’s important to see your dentist or hygienist if you see any of the following:

•    Gums that bleed or are red, puffy or swollen, or sore.
•    Gums that have pulled away from your teeth.
•    Changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
•    Pus that appears between your teeth and gums
•    Constant bad breath or bad taste in your mouth.

Solution: Patients with periodontal disease require more than just regular cleanings every 6 months. Periodontal therapy is the treatment of choice for gum disease, since routine hygiene visits are only meant to prevent gum disease

Bad Breath:

Bad breath, or halitosis, typically originates in the mouth. It is usually caused by oral bacteria breaking down food debris and the resultant decay. This process creates byproducts called volatile sulfur compounds, which emit a smell similar to rotten eggs. The type of bacteria that initiates this process needs an environment that is low in oxygen, so they usually inhabit areas that are difficult to reach, such as the pockets around teeth and the fissures of the tongue.

Solutions: If you have bad breath, you should make sure to obtain a complete dental examination that includes a periodontal examination. Keeping your mouth as clean as possible helps reduce the bacteria that can cause bad breath. In reducing bacteria and food debris, it is important to practice good oral hygiene, such as brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice a day.  Also to alleviate odors, clean your tongue with your toothbrush or a tongue scraper, a plastic tool that scrapes away bacteria that builds on the tongue.  Chewing sugar-free gum can also help control odors.  If you have dentures or a removable appliance, such as a retainer or mouthguard, make sure that you clean the appliance thoroughly before placing it back in your mouth. Before you use mouth rinses, deodorizing sprays or tablets, talk with your dentist because these products only mask the odor temporarily, and some products may actually make the problem worse.

What the Experts Say

Current research shows some alarming new information about the effects of periodontal disease.  Many studies, including several published in the Journal of Periodontology and The Surgeon General, confirm that people with periodontal disease are at a greater risk for other serious illnesses.  That’s because infected gums release significantly higher levels of bacteria into the bloodstream that then spread to other organs in the body.

Periodontal bacteria may contribute to:

•    Diabetes
•    Cardiovascular (Heart Disease)
•    Stroke
•    Lung Infections
•    Pre-term and low birth weight babies
•    Respiratory diseases

Factors that may put you at an increased rate:

•    Family History
•    Medications
•    Age
•    Gender
•    Poor dental care
•    Family Transmission
•    Smoking
•    Prior Gum Disease
•    Clenching or Grinding
•    Stress
•    Osteoporosis
•    Diabetes
•    Hormones
•    Poor Nutrition
•    Other systemic diseases

This disease can affect your overall health in more ways than you probably though possible.  As you can see, that’s why it’s so important to diagnose and treat this disease aggressively.