Seeing your dental hygienist at least twice a year does not only help in keeping your smile bright and healthy, but can improve your general health as well. Similarly, practicing good oral hygiene at home is equally important, however professional dental cleaning helps remove the accumulated plaque and tartar build-up that regular brushing and flossing tends to miss.
Periodontal disease is caused by a bacterial infection that can spread around the root of the teeth. The condition can cause tooth bone reduction and if left untreated can damage your teeth and cause tooth loss. Since it involves harm to the gums and the supporting bone structure beneath them, it is recommended to get treatment in its earliest stages. Research points to possible health effects of periodontal disease that go beyond your mouth and affects every sites and functions of a body.
Dental plaque, pale-yellow biofilm develops on teeth as a result of accumulation of bacteria that try to attach themselves to the tooth’s smooth surface. While brushing teeth should be able to get rid of plaque, it usually builds up naturally within a day or so, and over time, hardens into tartar which is much harder to remove. Cleaning the surface requires a professional help. The plaque then progressively damage teeth and surrounding tissue, causing gingivitis. This can further lead to the formation of pockets filled up with bacteria between the teeth and gums. The bacterial toxins thus become hazardous and our immune system destroys the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth together and in place. This leads to teeth becoming loose and eventually can fall out.
Healthy gums are pale pink and firm and with Periodontal Disease, you can note some of the changes, including:
- Bright red, purplish, or swollen gums
- Bad breath
- Tender or bleeding gums
- Receding gums
- Bad taste in mouth
- New spaces between teeth
- Sensitive teeth
- Loose teeth
- Painful chewing
You may also notice a change in the way your teeth fit together when biting.
Depending on the severity and the extent of the gum disease, both non-surgical and surgical treatments are available in order to control the infection.
Scaling: Involves the removal of tartar and bacteria from teeth and beneath the gum line, through a deep cleaning method.
Root planing: Involves smoothing the root surfaces to block further buildup of tartar and bacterial toxins that contribute to the disease.
Medications: Include topical antibiotics such as mouth rinses and gels in order to control bacteria and shrink periodontal pockets.
Flap surgery: Also called pocket reduction surgery, the procedure involves lifting back gum tissue and exposing the roots for an effective scaling and root planing treatment.
Soft tissue grafts: Tissue from the roof of the mouth is relocated to the gum line in order to prevent further gum loss. The treatment also ensures covering of exposed roots and improved appearance.
Bone grafting: Performed when the bone has been destroyed to prevent tooth loss by holding it in place and promote bone regrowth.
Guided tissue regeneration: Biocompatible fabric is placed between the bone and tooth to prevent unwanted tissue from growing and allowing bone regrowth.
Enamel matrix derivative: Involves the application of gel to a diseases root to stimulate healthy one and tissue growth.
The above mentioned treatment will only bring results if the patient keeps up with daily oral care at home. Also modifying certain behaviors, like quitting tobacco and smoking can improve the treatment outcome.
Many people have heard the word periodontist, but they don’t know what a periodontist does. A periodontist performs the same general dentistry techniques that a normal dentist would, but a periodontist also provides the extra care that can only come from extensive experience in deep gum, teeth, and jawbone care. We specialize in treating gum disease, gingivitis, gum grafting procedures, and dental implant services. If you want a dentist who knows the most important things about your gums and teeth, a periodontist is who you should call. There are many things a periodontist can do for you, but here are a few of the more common treatments and procedures.
If you want a deep clean: We know how to perform the deepest clean possible for your gums and teeth. Our team can remove bacteria from the space in between your gums and teeth. If you have bad plaque or tartar built up, we can provide normal cleaning and polishing, with additional scaling and root planing as needed for more serious cases.
If you suffer from gum recession: If your gums are receding and you don’t know why, we can give you a thorough check up and find out the reason this may be happening. Whether or not you know the reason already, we can provide treatments to help stop gum recession and procedures to encourage regrowth of your gums, like gum grafting and guided tissue regeneration. As a periodontist, we can perform the procedure in such a way that your gums will recover quickly.
If you have bone damage from periodontal disease: Periodontal disease causes a wide array of issues in oral health, but bone damage is one of the worst. If you have suffered from bone damage due to periodontal disease or another injury, we can perform a bone graft to replace missing bone and a bone surgery to reshape damaged bone areas. This care can be complex, but it is also necessary to ensure a long, strong oral health life for your mouth. Additionally, if you have lost a tooth or teeth, we can replace it with dental implants in order to prevent this bone loss.
If you have gum swelling and bleeding and don’t know why: We can check out your gums and tell you the reason you are experiencing swelling and discomfort. Inflamed gums can be a sign of periodontal disease or another bad infection. We can find the reason behind why your gums are inflamed and provide you will the care it will take to remove bacteria and ensure the returned health of your gums.
As a periodontist, we can help you with all these problems and more. We can also provide you with cosmetic gum and bone procedures. If you do not like the way your gums recede or how your teeth look, we can provide a solution and give you a better appearance and more confidence. No matter what your dental hygiene or oral health needs are, we can offer you quality care.
In the near future, a periodontist may be working even more closely with cardiologists and heart specialists. While, at this moment, there is a lot of speculation about the connection between the gum diseases and heart diseases, much research remains to be done before a fully formed opinion can be offered.
What is interesting though, in the meanwhile, is the anecdotal evidence that seems to link the two together and may end up being a cause for greater study. What we do know for a fact is this – while there certainly are similarities and coexisting conditions that relate to both heart diseases and gum diseases, it is also possible that these are purely coincidental.
For example, people who take an effort to maintain good heart health, through diet and exercise, also tend to be the people who take good care of their oral health, which could potentially taint any comprehensive study on the correlation between the two.
As a periodontist, we are specifically interested in anything that has to do with gum and oral health, so the potential connection between heart health and that of your gums is a fascinating subject.
Meanwhile, it should be noted that no comprehensive consensus has been reached on what that connection is, or if one even exists.
All, we do know, is that periodontists and cardiologist have to investigate many similarities to come to two very different diagnoses on two very different parts of the body.
Where it gets interesting is when you consider that the bacteria found in atherosclerotic plaque is identical, or virtually identical, to the bacteria found by periodontists in gum disease.
One potential explanation for this phenomena is this. People with gum disease will release the bacteria, in their gums, into the blood stream every time they brush their teeth. This bacteria, theoretically, could cause the body significant damage by releasing proteins also found in the artery walls.
The body would respond by making the blood clot more easily. Blood clots, as most of us know, lead to severe challenges with the heart.
Another area of similarity is the level of CRP or C-reactive protein. Periodontists know that patients with periodontal disease experience a significantly higher level of CRP, which causes inflammation of the mouth. Theoretically this inflammation of the mouth can cause swelling throughout the body, which in turn puts a person at serious risk for a heart attack.
Cardiologists and periodontists have this in common as well, since both measure the patients CRP. Cardiologists use it as one of the risk factors for people who may have a stroke. They do this because the building up of plaque in the arteries is an inflammatory process.
There is a plethora of information on the potential connections between periodontal diseases, gum diseases, and coronary diseases. Recently a comprehensive report was done on the subject.
The report looked at over 120 published papers on the two, and while there were no conclusions drawn, there certainly are some similarities and commonalities worth exploring further.
In the meantime, as a periodontist, we recommend that patients fight gum disease with frequent dental exams and cleanings along with eating a healthy diet.