If you have been told you have periodontal (gum) disease, you’re not alone. An estimated 80% of American adults currently have some form of the disease. Periodontal diseases range from simple gum inflammation to serious damage to the soft tissue and bone that supports the teeth. In the worst cases, teeth may be lost.
Periodontal disease can affect different people at different rates and ages. Causes can range from a bad bite to less-than-ideal oral hygiene, but a serious consequence of it is that, once bone is lost, it does not regenerate itself. So the resultant losses are cumulative, and eventually can result in loosening and loss of the tooth, or teeth.
What begins as an occasional bleeding around teeth when flossing can lead to far more serious consequences, and it is always best to begin any treatment early, and with the cleanest teeth possible. That is why we recommend deep cleanings when indicated, and checking the bite to remove unnatural interferences, at the earliest possible time, for optimal results.
We may not be able to get the body to regenerate bone, but we can certainly slow or halt the progression of the disease, in conjunction, of course, with meticulous home care.
Gum disease is a threat to your oral health. Research points to health effects from a periodontal disease that go well beyond your mouth. Whether the periodontal disease is stopped, slowed, or progresses depends a great deal on how well you care for your teeth and gums every day from this point forward.
How did I get periodontal disease?Everybody has a blend of bacteria in their mouths, a “fingerprint” unique to that individual. Frequently, these bacteria adhere to tooth structure, and thrive on the foodstuffs and saliva to create a matrix called “Plaque”, that soft film that we all associate with poor hygiene. The metabolic byproducts of the plaque can absorb minerals, and build a plaster-ish buildup on the teeth called “calculus”. Calculus becomes an additional, more protected housing for the bacteria, and the by-products of the bacteria on this calculus irritate the gums, and cause them to recede from the bacteria. At this point, the gums will appear inflamed and have a tendency to bleed, a condition called “gingivitis”.
Left unremoved, the calculus will “grow” down the root of the tooth, and eventually cause not only gingival inflammation, but also bone recession/loss. This is the essence of “periodontal disease”. Eventually, the support for the teeth may be diminished to the extent that the tooth/teeth become loose, due to lack of bone around them.
Another reason for periodontal bone loss is an improper bite. Just like a fencepost being continuously impacted, the tooth will transfer the forces to the bone, and that bone responds by shrinking away from the force. Eventually, you get bone loss in the area where the teeth are absorbing too much impact, either straight down or when the teeth slide side to side. This not only affects the bone support of the teeth, but also the muscles, and can lead to TMJ/TMD pain.
You may be aware of the signs indicating that you have infected gums. The signs include:
Any of these symptoms may signal a serious problem, which should be checked by Dr. Teasdale when you visit our office. One of our clinicians will ask about your medical history to identify underlying conditions or risk factors that may contribute to periodontal disease. Some of these risk factors are smoking, hormonal changes, diabetes, stress, medications, illness and genetic susceptibility, and of course, your bite harmony.
Getting Rid of Periodontal DiseaseTo improve the health of your gums, a dental cleaning is the first step. A common step in most of our adult cleanings is to clear away hardened tartar or calculus through scaling and root planing, a procedure known as a deep cleaning. We may use a tool known as an ultrasonic scaler to remove the tartar, which uses ultrasonic sound waves to loosen, then rinse out, the particles of calculus. After this process, the hygienist will then use a hand scaler to ensure that all material was removed. Once cleaned, we will then smooth the roots of the tooth; this will make it more difficult for bacteria to settle again, and evoke a healing response from your tissue.
Following this, we may embark on a bite adjustment, so the teeth bite as nature intended, and the muscles work freely and easily. This not only promotes the health of the bone itself, but removes the irritations that disturb the gum tissues, making healing more complete, and much faster and more comfortable.
During your daily hygiene, take the time to brush, floss, and rinse twice a day. When flossing, move the thread in a letter “c” formation between each tooth, this will help dislodge any material. Keeping your teeth clean will keep not just your teeth, but your entire body, healthier. Infections in our body don’t just affect the location of the infection but remove healing resources from other areas of our body to combat the infection.
For more information on periodontal disease, and how you can combat it, contact our front office at (503) 446-2722.