Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is something that many Americans struggle with. If left untreated over a period of years, it will damage the jawbone and it ultimately will cause your teeth to fall out. The key to preventing this disease is simply to take care of your teeth with regular dental appointments and to brush more than once per day.
How Gum Disease Forms
In each and every mouth is thousands of bacteria. These bacteria are constantly forming a sheen or plaque on your teeth. Brushing, flossing and mouth rinse can get rid of plaque through daily use. If plaque is left to grow, it forms tartar that can’t be removed with a toothbrush. At that point, your only option is to go to the dentist.
Tartar Begets Gingivitis
Tartar left untreated will cause another condition known as gingivitis. Gingivitis causes the gums to bleed and become swollen. It is a condition that can be cured with a daily regimen of brushing and flossing.
Gingivitis Begets Periodontitis
Untreated gingivitis becomes Periodontitis. Periodontitis is a condition where your gums recede from your teeth and form spaces in your gums that can become infected. At that point, your body’s immune system goes to war with the infection, which weakens the teeth even more. Teeth will begin to loosen and will need to be removed.
Causes of Periodontitis
- Smoking: Of all of the risk factors that cause periodontitis, smoking is the strongest. Smoking can actually impact how well your treatment goes.
- Hormonal changes: Some women end up with sensitive gums that are more susceptible to gingivitis.
- Diabetes: Diabetes raises the chance of you accruing infections like gum disease.
- Various medications: A lot of prescription drugs hamper saliva production. Other medications actually cause the gums to grow, which can cause a lot of issues with teeth and their cleanliness.
- DNA: Some people are simply more susceptible to periodontitis due to their genetic makeup, particularly males.
When Periodontitis Begins
Most people don’t develop this condition until they are in their late 30’s or early 40’s. Teenagers usually get gingivitis and it won’t progress to periodontitis unless plaque builds up under the gums.
Symptoms of Periodontitis
The symptoms of gum disease usually include one or more of the following:
- Recurrent bad breath that is difficult to eliminate.
- Gums that are much more red than normal.
- Bleeding gums.
- Chewing is sometimes painful.
- One or more teeth become loose.
- Teeth that are very sensitive to ice cream or cold drinks.
- Gums that are receding and exposing more tooth than is normal.
How it is Treated
The first step is to head to a dentist like Dr. Shiffman and the Boynton Laser Dental Staff. You should know your medical history and note any factors that may have played into the development of periodontitis. The dentist will examine your gums and look for signs of inflammation. The dentist might also use a probe to look for pockets or gaps in the gums. You could undergo an x-ray if they think that the underlying bone has been affected.
Overall the idea is to try to contain the infection and prevent it from spreading. No matter what, the dentist will insist that you brush and floss multiple times per day. For many, quitting smoking will completely clear up this issue.
Often the dentist will do a thorough cleaning to remove all of the plaque that they can. They will scrape tartar from the gum line and they will eliminate germs that form at the base of each tooth. Sometimes, a laser is used to remove excess plaque. The laser is popular because it is very a simple procedure and it causes less bleeding.
In severe cases of periodontitis, you might have to get surgery. The dentist will perform what is known as “flap surgery,” where they lift back the gums to remove the tartar. The gums will be sutured back in place. Over time, the gums heal and return to normal.
If there is a loss of bone or tissue, a doctor might perform a graft. A bone graft is a surgery where the dentist replaces missing bone with synthetic bone that can help the area regenerate.
How to Prevent Periodontitis
Periodontitis doesn’t happen overnight, but it will happen if you do not exercise care and maintain a strict daily dental regimen. There is nothing fun about losing your teeth and a little bit of prevention goes a long way. It is essential to keep up with dental visits. At the Boynton Laser Dental Center we use the newest dental technology to ensure the comfort of each patient. We use dental lasers to clean and repair teeth instead of needles and drills. Our practice is unique in the Boynton Beach area and we are known as one of the biggest and advanced dental centers in Florida.
Make an appointment now to keep your teeth clean and prevent the onset of periodontitis today!