Periodontics

Periodontal Disease: Protecting Your Smile and Your Health

Periodontal disease, often referred to as gum disease, is a common dental condition that affects the gums and the bone supporting your teeth. Understanding and addressing periodontal disease is vital for maintaining not only your oral health but also your overall well-being.

The Importance of Periodontal Health

The term “periodontal” relates to the structures surrounding your teeth, and periodontal disease involves the inflammation and infection of these tissues. This condition is primarily caused by the accumulation of plaque, a sticky film of food debris, bacteria, and saliva. If left untreated, plaque can harden into calculus, or tartar, which can be especially damaging.

Why Address Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease can manifest in several ways, with symptoms that may include red, swollen, and bleeding gums. While the early stages of this disease are often painless, it can lead to significant problems if not properly managed. Here’s why it’s crucial to address periodontal disease:

  • Prevent Tooth Loss: Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. Proper treatment and oral hygiene can help preserve your natural teeth.
  • Potential Health Connections: Emerging research suggests a possible link between periodontal disease and other systemic conditions, including stroke, bacterial pneumonia, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and increased risks during pregnancy. Scientists are investigating the role of inflammation and bacteria associated with gum disease in these health concerns. Additionally, smoking can further increase your risk of developing periodontal disease.

Maintaining Your Oral Health

The good news is that with the right steps, you can reduce your risk of periodontal disease. Here are some key measures to protect your oral health:

  • Good Oral Hygiene: Brush and floss your teeth regularly to remove plaque and reduce the risk of gum disease. Make sure to visit your dentist for regular check-ups and professional cleanings.
  • Balanced Diet: A healthy diet contributes to strong teeth and gums. Minimize sugary and acidic foods, and opt for a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins.
  • Early Detection: Pay attention to signs and symptoms of periodontal disease, which may include bleeding gums, loose teeth, new spacing between teeth, persistent bad breath, pus around the teeth and gums, receding gums, red and puffy gums, and tenderness or discomfort.

By taking these proactive steps, you can maintain your oral health and minimize the risks associated with periodontal disease. Our team at Jax Dental Arts is here to support you on your journey to ahealthy, beautiful smile.

Contact Us Today

If you suspect you may have periodontal disease or want to learn more about how to protect your oral health, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our experienced dental professionals. We’re committed to providing you with the highest quality dental care and helping you maintain a lifetime of healthy smiles.

Diagnosis

Periodontal disease is diagnosed by your dentist or dental hygienist during a periodontal examination. This type of exam should always be part of your regular dental check-up.

A periodontal probe (small dental instrument) is gently used to measure the sulcus (pocket or space) between the tooth and the gums. The depth of a healthy sulcus measures three millimeters or less and does not bleed. The periodontal probe helps indicate if pockets are deeper than three millimeters. As periodontal disease progresses, the pockets usually get deeper.

Your dentist or hygienist will use pocket depths, amount of bleeding, inflammation, tooth mobility, etc., to make a diagnosis that will fall into a category below:

Gingivitis

Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease. Plaque and its toxin by-products irritate the gums, making them tender, inflamed, and likely to bleed.

Periodontitis

Plaque hardens into calculus (tartar). As calculus and plaque continue to build up, the gums begin to recede from the teeth. Deeper pockets form between the gums and teeth and become filled with bacteria and pus. The gums become very irritated, inflamed, and bleed easily.Slight to moderate bone loss may be present.

Advanced Periodontitis

The teeth lose more support as the gums, bone, and periodontal ligament continue to be destroyed. Unless treated, the affected teeth will become very loose and may be lost. Generalized moderate to severe bone loss may be present.

Treatment

Periodontal treatment methods depend upon the type and severity of the disease. Your dentist and dental hygienist will evaluate for periodontal disease and recommend the appropriate treatment.

Periodontal disease progresses as the sulcus (pocket or space) between the tooth and gums gets filled with bacteria, plaque, and tartar, causing irritation to the surrounding tissues. When these irritants remain in the pocket space, they can cause damage to the gums and eventually, the bone that supports the teeth!

If the disease is caught in the early stages of gingivitis, and no damage has been done, one to two regular cleanings will be recommended. You will also be given instructions on improving your daily oral hygiene habits and having regular dental cleanings.

If the disease has progressed to more advanced stages, a special periodontal cleaning called scaling and root planning (deep cleaning) will be recommended. It is usually done one quadrant of the mouth at a time while the area is numb. In this procedure, tartar, plaque, and toxins are removed from above and below the gum line (scaling) and rough spots on root surfaces are made smooth (planning). This procedure helps gum tissue to heal and pockets to shrink. Medications, special medicated mouth rinses, and an electric tooth brush may be recommended to help control infection and healing.

If the pockets do not heal after scaling and root planning, periodontal surgery may be needed to reduce pocket depths, making teeth easier to clean. Your dentist may also recommend that you see a Periodontist (specialist of the gums and supporting bone).

Maintenance

It only takes twenty four hours for plaque that is not removed from your teeth to turn into calculus (tartar)! Daily home cleaning helps control plaque and tartar formation, but those hard to reach areas will always need special attention.

Once your periodontal treatment has been completed, your dentist and dental hygienist will recommend that you have regular maintenance cleanings (periodontal cleanings), usually four times a year. At these cleaning appointments, the pocket depths will be carefully checked to ensure that they are healthy. Plaque and calculus that is difficult for you to remove on a daily basis will be removed from above and below the gum line.

In addition to your periodontal cleaning and evaluation, your appointment will usually include:

  • Examination of diagnostic x-rays (radiographs): Essential for detection of decay, tumors, cysts, and bone loss.X-rays also help determine tooth and root positions.
  • Examination of existing restorations: Check current fillings, crowns, etc.
  • Examination of tooth decay: Check all tooth surfaces for decay.
  • Oral cancer screening: Check the face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, cheek tissues, and gums for any signs of oral cancer.
  • Oral hygiene recommendations: Review and recommend oral hygiene aids as needed. (Electric toothbrushes, special periodontal brushes, fluorides, rinses, etc.)
  • Teeth polishing: Remove stain and plaque that is not otherwise removed during tooth brushing and scaling.

Good oral hygiene practices and periodontal cleanings are essential in maintaining dental health and keeping periodontal disease under control!

Your oral health is essential, and we’re here to help you safeguard it. Schedule an appointment today to take the first step towards a healthier, happier smile.

Questions & Answers
What is periodontics?

Periodontics is a dental specialty focusing on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of gum disease. This includes conditions like gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and periodontitis (destruction of the gums and supporting bone around teeth).

How do I know if I have gum disease?

Some common signs of gum disease include:

  • Bleeding gums, especially during brushing or flossing
  • Red, swollen, or tender gums
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Loose teeth
  • Receding gums, making teeth appear longer
  • If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your dentist for a comprehensive examination and diagnosis.
What are the consequences of untreated gum disease?

Untreated gum disease can lead to serious consequences, including:

  • Tooth loss: Gum disease can eventually destroy the supporting bone around your teeth, causing them to loosen and fall out.
  • Increased risk of other health problems: Studies have linked gum disease to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other chronic conditions.
  • Pain and discomfort: Advanced gum disease can cause significant pain and discomfort, impacting your quality of life.
How is gum disease treated?

The treatment for gum disease depends on the severity of your condition. Early-stage gum disease can often be controlled with:

  • Improved oral hygiene: This includes brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing daily, and regular dental cleanings.
  • Scaling and root planing: This procedure removes plaque and tartar buildup from your teeth and below the gum line.
  • More advanced cases may require additional treatments, such as:
  • Gum surgery: This involves procedures to restore damaged gum tissue and bone.
  • Antibiotics: In some cases, antibiotics may be necessary to control bacterial infections.
Can I prevent gum disease?

Yes, there are several things you can do to prevent gum disease:

  • Practice good oral hygiene: Brush your teeth twice a day, floss daily, and schedule regular dental cleanings and checkups.
  • Quit smoking: Smoking is a major risk factor for gum disease.
  • Manage stress: Chronic stress can weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to gum disease.
  • Eat a healthy diet: A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole proteins can help you maintain good oral health.
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