What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is an infection of the structures around the teeth. This structure, which is responsible for holding your teeth in place, can be affected by plaque that builds up on the teeth and hardens into “tartar”.
There are different stages of periodontal disease. In its earliest stage, it is called gingivitis and is characterized by an infection that causes the gums to become swollen, red and even bleed.
In more severe forms of the disease, such as periodontitis, it can destroy the structures that support your teeth in your jawbone leading, consequently, to tooth loss.
Causes & Risk Factors
Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria in dental plaque. In the absence of bacterial plaque, periodontal disease does not occur.
One of the causes of the disease is bad oral hygiene. If you slip on your oral hygiene care or if you skip your dental visits, plaque builds up on the teeth. Eventually, it spreads below the gum line. The bacteria are protected there because your toothbrush can’t reach them. If plaque is not removed, the bacteria will continue to multiply and your gum inflammation may get worse.
It is proven that intensive oral hygiene that includes brushing and flossing regularly may prevent the occurrence of perio disease. A visit to your dentist/hygienist on a regular basis will also help to control the spread of bacteria and the plaque build up.
While bad hygiene is considered one of the most important causes of periodontal disease, we still need to consider the impact of other factors that may also increase the risk of it, such as:
• Smoking • Poor Nutrition • Stress • Diabetes • Hormonal changes (especially in women) • Genetic susceptibility • Misaligned or crooked teeth, braces or bridgework • Medications that lessen the flow of saliva • Grinding, gritting or clenching of teeth • Underlying immune-deficiencies – e.g., AIDS
Signs & Symptoms
There are some warning signs related to periodontal disease. Here are some symptoms you can experience:
Bad Breath or Bad Taste that won't go away
Red or swollen gums
Tender or bleeding gums
Gums that have pulled away from your teet
Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
Any change in the fit of partial dentures.
If you experience one or more of these symptoms, please, talk to your doctor/hygienist about it.
Prevention & Treatment
The main goal of the perio treatment is to control the infection. The treatment itself will vary, depending on the extent of the damage. But one thing is certain – to control the infection, the bacterial plaque needs to be removed. And to achieve the removal of the plaque, the hygienist, the dentist, and the patient need to work together.
To help prevent or control periodontal diseases, it is important to:
Brush properly and floss every day to remove the bacteria from the teeth and gingiva;
See a dental professional regularly. The dentist/hygienist will use several methods to prevent/treat perio disease. These methods may include scaling and root planning, teeth polishing and/or irrigations and mouthwash.
Scaling and root planning is the process of removing calculus and dental plaque using an instrument.
Teeth polishing is used to remove the remaining dental plaque and possible stains on the tooth surface.
Irrigations and mouthwash are used as a way to administrate ingredients that reduce gingival inflammation through the use of toothpaste or mouthwash. Subsequent dental appointments are important to keep ongoing maintenance. The dental professional will discuss with the patient the periodicity of the visits, knowing that regularly it will be every 4 months.