Periodontics is the area of dentistry that focuses on the tooth surrounding areas. There are two main periodontal diseases: periodontitis and gingivitis. In both of them, the main contributing factor are bacteria. As we all know, bacteria are normally found in different areas of our body, including the mouth.
When these microorganisms mix with food debris and saliva fluids, they form what is known as dental plaque. This substance is very sticky and can easily adheres to the teeth. Since it is loaded with bacteria, the longer it stays in the mouth, the more inflamed the gums get. This results in bleeding and swelling (gingivitis).
As time goes by and the dental plaque is not removed from the oral tissues, it absorbs minerals from the saliva fluids. This results in tartar or calculus formation. The latter is a calcified structure, which makes is impossible for patients to remove with brushing and flossing techniques, protecting the dental plaque and triggering bone loss (periodontitis). One of every two patients aged 30 years and over has periodontal disease. Many patients are not even aware they have it. Periodontitis is main reason for tooth loss. It is believed to be a significant negative factor in many systemic conditions, including: cardiovascular disease, endocarditis, diabetes, osteoporosis and others.
Keeping up with your regular dental visits and a good oral hygiene can help to prevent you from having periodontal disease. It is also important to maintain a healthy and balanced diet.
Periodontitis main characteristics:
Gingival bleeding: healthy gums should never bleed, not even while flossing and brushing
Tooth mobility: inflamed tissues and bone loss trigger this problem
Flaring or spacing between teeth: lack of bone support cases this condition
Halitosis (bad breath): caused by an increase in bacterial action in the mouth
Suppuration: indication of infection
Gingival recession: gums shrinkage, exposing root surface
Gingival soreness: gums hurt by merely touching them
Whenever the gums inflammation increase, involving the surrounding bony structures, the gum disease passes from gingivitis to periodontitis. The tooth to gum attachment is broken down, allowing the infection to destroy the tooth supporting bone (periodontal pocket). A conventional dental cleaning is no longer effective to control the disease. A deep cleaning, or scaling and root planing, is the recommended option. The patient is numbed up and the irritants (dental plaque, calculus) are removed from the periodontal pocket. This allows the oral tissues to naturally heal. In some advanced cases, antibiotic and special mouth rinses will be necessary. This will be determined once we monitor the progress achieved after the initial treatment. If the condition does not respond to conventional treatments, the patient will be referred to a periodontist for further examinations and treatment.
Once your periodontal treatment is completed, you will be examined four times a year. We will record you progress, reinforce oral hygiene instructions, evaluate current conditions and perform a regular dental cleaning if everything looks fine. If some areas need more help, we will do some localized scaling in conjunction with your regular cleaning. Once your condition regresses and you are able to keep your gums healthy, you will be placed in a twice a year recall system.
A good dental home care and regular maintenance is the best way to keep your gums healthy. Remember, you do not have to floss them all, only the ones that you want to keep healthy!
By Bolivar Luperon