Periodontal Treatment / Gum Infections

Periodontal Treatment / Gum Infections

Periodontal diseases range from simple gum inflammation to serious disease that results in major damage to the soft tissue and bone that support the teeth. In the worst cases, teeth are lost. Gum disease is a threat to your oral health. Whether it is stopped, slowed or gets worse depends a great deal on how well you care for your teeth and gums every day.

What causes Periodontal Disease?
Our mouths are full of bacteria. These bacteria, along with mucus and other particles, constantly form a sticky, colorless "plaque" which is present on everyone's teeth. Brushing and flossing help get rid of the plaque, however plaque that is not removed can harden and form bacteria-harboring "tartar" that brushing doesn't remove. Only a professional cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist can remove the tartar.

Gingivitis
The longer plaque and tartar are on teeth, the more harmful they become. The bacteria cause inflammation of the gums that is called 'gingivitis'. In gingivitis, the gums become red, swollen and can bleed easily. Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease that can usually be reversed with daily brushing and flossing, and regular cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist. This form of gum disease does not include any loss of bone and tissue that hold teeth in place.

Periodontitis
When gingivitis is not treated, it can advance to "periodontitis" (which means "inflammation around the tooth. ") In the case of periodontitis, gums pull away from the teeth and form "pockets" that are infected. The body's immune system fights the bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line. Bacterial toxins and the body's enzymes fighting the infection actually start to break down the bone and connective tissues that hold teeth in place. If not treated, the bones, gums, and connective tissue that support the teeth are destroyed. The teeth may eventually become loose and have to be removed.

Risk Factors

  • Smoking. Need another reason to quit smoking? Smoking is one of the most significant risk factors associated with the development of periodontitis. Additionally, smoking can lower the chances of success of some treatments
  • Diabetes. People with diabetes are at higher risk for developing infections, including periodontal disease
  • Stress. Research shows that stress can make it more difficult for our bodies to fight infection, including periodontal disease
  • Medications. Some drugs, such as antidepressants and some heart medicines, can affect oral health because they lessen the flow of saliva. (Saliva has a protective effect on teeth and gums.)

What can I do to Prevent Gum Disease?
Here are some things you can do to prevent periodontal diseases:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day
  • Floss every day
  • Visit the dentist routinely for a check-up and professional cleaning
  • Eat a well balanced diet
  • Don't use tobacco products

How do I Knowif I Have Periodontal Disease?
Symptoms are often not noticeable until the disease is advanced. They include:

  • Bad breath that won't go away
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Tender or bleeding gums
  • Painful chewing
  • Loose teeth
  • Sensitive teeth

Any of these symptoms may signal a serious problem, which should be checked by a dentist.

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