Periodontal Disease

What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal (gum) disease happens for two reasons. Inadequate control of bacteria and bite stress. There are components of each of these in most Periodontal cases. Controlling the bacteria as best as possible and by having your bite balanced, with split therapy, crowns, or minor tooth adjustments, are fundamental in addressing Periodontal disease. You may have gum disease, and not even know it, because it’s rarely painful in its early stages.

How does it affect my teeth?
If plaque isn’t removed each day, it hardens to become tartar, and only a professional cleaning will remove it. If it’s not removed, tartar invades the root surfaces of your teeth. Here, harmful bacteria thrive and cause toxins to form, destroying tooth, gum and bone tissue. Also, if your teeth are not hitting properly, the trauma may jar teeth loose thus allowing the bacteria to wedge under the gum where it is unreachable by a tooth brush or floss.

What are the symptoms?
If bone tissue is destroyed, your teeth can loosen. So let us know if you have persistent bad breath, if your gums are swollen, soft or tender, or if they bleed when you brush or floss. If we diagnose gum disease early, we can stop the destruction and save your teeth.

Periodontal Disease and Your Health

An open doorway for bacteria
Researchers recently discovered that this chronic infection in your mouth creates an open doorway for plaque bacteria to enter the bloodstream. These bacteria- Streptococcus sanguis- may cause blood clots that can block your arteries and even trigger a heart attack.

Other Problems
Other ailments have been linked to periodontal disease, including respiratory disease, pneumonia, strokes, ulcers, difficult-to-control diabetes, low birth weight babies, and infective endocarditis, a dangerous infection in the heart valves.

Periodontal Disease and Smoking

Smoking increases your risk
It’s common knowledge that smoking has been linked to both lung and heart disease. But smoking can also increase your risk of periodontal disease. Smokers are more likely to have a build up of tartar on their teeth, where disease-causing bacteria thrive. There are over 4000 chemicals in cigarette smoke, including formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, ammonia and arsenic. Also, smokers are four times more likely to have advanced periodontal disease, and are twice as likely to lose their teeth.

A chronic infection
Periodontal disease is essentially a chronic, open infection in your mouth. Smoking worsens the condition by damaging the natural processes your body uses to fight the periodontal infection; smoking reduces saliva levels, restricts blood flow, and damages your immune system.

Treatment of Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease varies in its severity. Common to all types is bite stress, irreversible tissue damage, and uncontrolled bacteria. Mild, moderate or advanced periodontal disease can not be diagnosed without a full series of x-rays, and an exam. Periodontal disease is usually not symptomatic, but a slow-growing process that will ultimately lead to tooth and bone loss, over a period of years.

Mild periodontal disease can usually be treated here in the office with so-called “deep cleanings,” which allow us to clean under your gums thoroughly, while your mouth is comfortably numb. This may also include more frequent visits than a typical “6 month” visit, and usually involves splint therapy.

If periodontal disease is more advanced, we would recommend that a Periodontist “team up” with us in your care. While they would be responsible for your gums, we would continue to be responsible for your teeth and splint, and you would alternate between offices throughout your course of treatment.
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