Hello this is Dr.Ralph Parkin, your trusted Colorado Springs dental adviser with another dental health concern that causes literally millions of people in the U.S. to lose their teeth and is a known factor in causing strokes and heart attacks.
Periodontal disease, also called gum disease, is an irreversible inflammatory disease causing the break-down of gum tissue and jawbone that support the teeth. Gingivitis(red, inflamed, bleeding gums) is an early sign of impending periodontal disease. At this stage, gingivitis can be reversed to healthy again with dental care and proper home care.
As periodontal disease advances, the gums are not only inflamed, but they begin to pull away from the teeth causing deep under gum pockets making it easier for plaque and debris to build up. The jawbone supporting the teeth begins to break down. The bacteria in plaque produces toxins deepening the pockets leading to gum tissue loss and bone loss. In later stages of the disease, the bone destruction becomes severe causing teeth to become loose and abscess. Eventually tooth loss occurs.
Risk factors of periodontal disease:
1. Lack of adequate home oral care
5. Grinding and clenching teeth
6. Hormonal changes
7. Medications that cause dry mouth
9. Autoimmune diseases such as diabetes, HIV, cancer
1. Red, swollen, and possibly sore gums
2. Receding gums
3. Bad breath
4. Under gum pockets
5. Loose teeth
6. Change in position of teeth
Treatment of periodontal disease
1. Deep scaling to remove irritants – plaque and tartar from deep within the pockets and roots of teeth
2. Antibiotics or other medications prescribed
3. Laser therapy
4. Periodontal maintenance every 3 months to remove irritants and help prevent further destruction of teeth, gums, and bone.
5. Occasionally surgical intervention is necessary to save teeth and jawbone.
To reduce risk, brush twice daily, floss, use a tongue scraper, and use an antibacterial rinse.
Early stages of periodontal disease can go undetected without regular dental care since pain is often delayed until later stages of the disease. It is important to be aware of the symptoms and see your dentist and dental hygienist regularly for prevention and early intervention to maintain your smile for a lifetime.
Susan Divine, RDH