Periodontal health has a great deal to do with the health and appearance of your teeth and also determines how long they will last. Periodontal, or gum disease, is an infection of the tissues that support your teeth.
Your gum has a very shallow v-shaped crevice called a sulcus, which lies between the tooth and gums. Periodontal disease strikes just below the gum line in the sulcus, where it causes the breakdown of the supporting tissues. As the tissues are damaged, the sulcus develops into a pocket of infection. Generally, the more severe the disease, the greater the depth of the pocket.
New research is showing the connection between periodontal disease and other, more serious diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. Gum disease is believed to have a connection to heart disease because the inflamed gums may cause swelling arteries. Also, the bacteria from the periodontal disease can enter the blood stream and contribute to blood clots.
In terms of diabetes, research has shown that people with diabetes are more at risk of suffering periodontal disease. This is because severe periodontal disease can affect blood sugar levels, causing diabetic complications.
There are two major stages of severity:
- Gingivitis: A milder and reversible form of periodontal disease that only affects the gums, and
- Periodontitis: A more serious and further advanced case of gingivitis
The following risk factors increase your chances of developing periodontal disease. They are:
- Tobacco smoking or chewing
- Systemic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease
- Some types of medications such as steroids, some anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, calcium channel blockers, and oral contraceptives
- Bridges that no longer fit properly
- Crooked teeth
- Defective fillings
The following warning signs may indicate a problem and require you to see a dentist:
- Gums that bleed easily
- Red, swollen, or tender gums
- Gums that have pulled away from teeth
- Persistent bad breath or bad taste in your mouth
- Permanent teeth that are loose or separating
- Any changes in your bite
- Any changes in the fit of your partial dentures
Treatment methods depend on the type of disease and how far the condition has progressed. The main goal is to control the infection, but the overall success of the treatment plan depends on:
- Severity of the disease
- Ability to maintain oral hygiene at home
- Reducing your risk factors
Once your dental evaluation is complete, Dr. Kwan and Dr. Hsu will discuss some of the following treatment plans with you:
- Deep cleaning to remove plaque through a method called scaling and root planing. Scaling removes the tartar from above and below the gum line and planing gets rid of rough spots on the tooth where bacteria gather.
- Use of medications such as antibiotics and enzyme suppressants, in addition to scaling and planning.
- Soft-Tissue Laser Dentistry might be necessary if the inflammation and deep pockets remain after initial treatments.
- Flap Surgery - removes tartar deposits in the deep pockets to make it easier to keep the area clean.
- Bone & Tissue Grafts - may be necessary to encourage new growth of bone or gum tissue that has been destroyed by the disease.
If you are experiencing any symptoms of gum disease, call or email us today. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Kwan or Dr. Hsu to get an evaluation and find the best treatment plan for you.