Many adults have some form of gum disease. Periodontal diseases range from simple inflammation to serious disease that results in major damage to the gum tissue and bone that support the teeth. In severe cases, teeth are unfortunately lost.
The cause of gum disease
Periodontitis often begins with the build up of plaque on the teeth. Plaque is the sticky substance that forms from the sugars and starches in food and the bacteria present in your mouth. Regular brushing removes plaque from your teeth but it reforms quickly – at various rates depending on diet and intake but within 24 hours.
Plaque that remains on your teeth for an extended period can turn into a hard substance called calculus. Calculus creates a bed for bacteria to grow on and can irritate your gum line. Hardened calculus cannot be removed simply by brushing and requires dental treatment to remove. It also makes the periodontal condition much worse by impeding effective cleaning.
Inflammation caused by the build up of plaque and calculus causes gaps to appear between the gum line and the teeth. These gaps or pockets then fill with further deposits of plaque, calculus and bacteria.
The bacteria in your mouth release endotoxins which also causes irritation of the gums. It's common symptoms are bleeding gums, tooth mobility, gum recession, bad breath and occasionally suppuration (pus) around the gums.
Left unchecked these pockets grow and begin to wear away your gum tissue and eventually your bone. If too much bone is lost then teeth can become loose, dislodged and eventually fall out.
Periodontal disease is due to a buildup of bacteria on the tooth surface below the gum line, leading to the breakdown of the attachment apparatus of the teeth (the bone and gum that surround the teeth). Some people have certain risk factors that make them more susceptible to gum disease than others as outlined below:
- Genetic susceptibility. Some individuals are more prone to severe gum disease than others. Early detection and treatment is paramount in these individuals.
- Smoking. Smoking is one of the most significant risk factors associated with the development of gum disease. Additionally, smoking can lower the chances for successful treatment.
- Stress. Many serious conditions such as hypertension, cancer, and numerous other health problems are linked to stress. Stress also is a risk factor for periodontal disease. Research demonstrates that stress can make it more difficult for the body to fight off infection, including periodontal diseases.
- Diabetes. People with diabetes are at higher risk for developing infections, including gum disease.
- Local factors. Deficient dental restorations (i.e. poorly fitting crowns, veneers, dentures and fillings) may contribute to an accumulation of dental plaque.
- Other illnesses and their treatments. Diseases such as leukemia and HIV and its treatments can also negatively affect the health of gums, as can treatments for cancer. Other systemic diseases that interfere with the body’s inflammatory system may worsen the condition of the gums. These include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Medications. Some prescriptions and over the counter medications can reduce the flow of saliva, which has a protective effect on the mouth. Without enough saliva, the mouth is vulnerable to infections such as gum disease. Additionally, some medicines can cause abnormal overgrowth of the gum tissue making it difficult to keep teeth and gums clean.
- Clenching or grinding. This habit could produce excessive force on the supporting tissues of the teeth and could speed up the rate at which these periodontal tissues are destroyed.
- Obesity. A diet low in important nutrients can compromise the body’s immune system and make it harder for the body to fight off infection. Because periodontal disease begins as an infection, poor nutrition can worsen the condition of your gums. In addition, research has shown that obesity may increase the risk of periodontal disease.
The symptoms of gum disease include:
- Bad breath that won’t go away
- Red or swollen gums
- Tender or bleeding gums
- Painful chewing
- Loose teeth
- Sensitive teeth
- Receding gums or longer appearing teeth
The main goal of treatment is to control the infection. The number and types of treatment will vary, depending on the extent of the gum disease. All types of treatment start with prevention and requires that the patient keeps up meticulous care at home. The reduction of risk factors such as smoking is paramount to improve treatment outcome.
Deep Cleaning (Scaling and Root Surface Debridement)
The periodontist removes the plaque through a deep-cleaning method called Scaling and Root Surface Debridement. Scaling means scraping off the tartar from above and below the gum line. Root Surface Debridement removes bacterial deposits, which cause further progression of the disease, on areas on the tooth root.
If treated in its early stages periodontitis can be easily treated. After treatment you will need to maintain a strong oral hygiene routine to prevent reoccurrence. In severe cases surgery may be required to more thoroughly clean out pockets. If untreated you may also require dental implants to replace teeth lost from periodontitis.
If you feel as if you have any of the symptoms of Gum Disease, fill out the form below to book your initial consultation.