Periodontal gum disease is a fairly common one. At this point, most adults in the United States of America have some kind of periodontal condition. These can vary from minor irritations of the gums all the way up to significant and dangerous conditions which can cause severe damage to your oral surrounding. It usually affects the tissue and bone supporting the teeth so in extreme cases you might find your teeth to start falling out.
It’s important to be aware of this and take proper steps as soon as possible, no matter of the condition your gums are in – there are proper procedures to be taken for all of them.
As you probably know already, our oral cavities are full with bacteria which paired with other particles form so called plaque on your teeth. This plaque can easily be removed by regular toothbrush and in case you miss some of it, eventually it will harden and create harder surface which can’t be removed by regular brushing. This harder surface, or coating, is called tartar and can be removed only with the help of a professional dentist.
Mild Form of Gum Disease – Gingivitis
Depending on how long you keep this plaque and tartar untreated, you will get diagnosed with a different degree of a condition. Obviously, the longer you stick with them, more dangerous will your condition become. Gingivitis is the first and mild form of gum disease which can actually be fixed with an increased intensity of your oral hygiene, as well as a regular visit to your dentist. In this stage, no bone holding the teeth in place is weakened.
Advanced Form of Gum Disease – Periodontitis
In case you don’t tend to your gingivitis, it can quickly evolve into periodontitis, which is basically the advanced stage of this condition. This is an advanced inflammation of all matter, both bones and tissue around the teeth. At this point, your gums will collapse and reveal small pockets which can become home for bacteria to settle in. This allows the infection to grow all around your gum line, when your body will naturally respond to this issue, dissolving the bone and tissue which is holding your teeth. In case you do not treat this, your oral cavity will be quite devastated as both teeth and tissue around them will become destroyed.
Significant Risk Factors
- Smoking is a generally bad habit and it also influences on the probability of you getting periodontitis, as well as some additional diseases related to gums. If you smoke during your treatment, you will significantly decrease the efficiency of the same.
- Girls and women go through several different phases where hormones play a significant role. In these periods, the gum tissue tends to tenderize and it’s important to increase the efficiency of oral hygiene in this period.
- Generally speaking, people suffering from diabetes are at risk from developing all kinds of infections, among which there is periodontitis as well. This applies to some other conditions as well, such as AIDS, cancer etc.
- Wrongly applied medical treatment, as in medication which is not appropriate can have a significant influence on this. Some of these have a direct influence on saliva and its consistency.
- Genetics have an important role as well. Some people simply have a higher tendency towards periodontitis than others.
Who Gets Periodontitis
Interestingly enough, people usually don’t show any symptoms of periodontitis until they reach into their 40s. Younger people usually develop gingivitis, which is a milder form of the condition. Men are more prone towards developing this condition. Generally speaking, if you don’t take care of the plaque buildup on your teeth, you’re risking this gum condition – it’s as simple as that.
Recognizing Gum Condition
There are a few symptoms to note in case you’re trying to determine if you are suffering from any kind of gum condition:
- Bad breath
- Swollen gums – bleeding gums
- Difficulties with chewing, caused by pain
- Teeth loss – oversensitive teeth
Any of the above mentioned symptoms can indicate an issue with your gums, and should serve as an alarm for you to visit your dentist. He will then ask about several things, mostly regarding any medical history of your family having issues with gum diseases. Regular examination will follow, as well as a special check where he will use a probe to check out if there are any pockets in your gums. This is all completely painless so don’t worry about it.
In case of a confirmed condition, you will have your oral area x-rayed to see if there is any bone loss to be noted, and you will most probably get assigned with a specialist who will take the next steps in order for you to get rid of this condition.
The principle behind treating this condition is to establish control over the infection itself. This can be done differently, mostly depending on which state you’re in. Whatever type of treatment you’re assigned with, you will need to improve your daily oral hygiene at home. Some additional requirements might be necessary like quitting smoking and some others, all in a sense of improving the final outcome of the treatment.
Scaling and root planning is a procedure which a specialist dentist will do in order to remove all the left-over plaque before doing anything else. Scaling is a process of removing tartar, the hardened plaque above and below gum line. Laser is mostly used for this as it can clean your gums thoroughly without causing pain, bleeding and many other inconvenient side effects.
Medications Used for Treatment
Medications are usually used for those less extreme stages of this condition and they can’t simply replace regular surgery. These simply improve the chances of your complete recovery or can play a significant role in preventing the condition from improving further. To start with, there is a prescription antimicrobial mouth rinse which is used for the most basic gingivitis as a regular mouthwash. Antiseptic chip and antibiotic gel are used after root planning mostly, where they help prevent infection locally after a procedure. Antibiotics are used as the most powerful tool against fighting this condition, but they need to be consumed with care as they can backfire.
Treatment by Surgery
Flap surgery is done when your gums have a lot of infected pockets, where the doctor will directly remove all and any bacteria buildup. This is done under full anesthetics and lasts quite a while, depending on how advanced your condition is. Basically, your gums will be raised up like flaps in order to remove any tartar or plaque buildup under this area, preventing any unexpected issues further down the line. Once this is done, gums are returned back to their original position, making sure that they surround the teeth well. After a while, gums will heal and provide a much tighter fit around your teeth.
In case of bone matter loss, your dentist is capable of assisting the regeneration of any tissue originating from this area. This is called tissue regeneration and can it’s especially efficient with controlled bone regeneration. A mesh material is used and implanted into the area between the bone and gum tissue, as this helps to keep the tissue from growing where it shouldn’t. A side effect of this is that the bone starts to regrow. Proteins are a must in this procedure, especially with growing gum tissue back.
Both of these procedures are different and it’s fairly impossible to know which of them will be more efficient long-term wise. Overall success of the treatment does depend on a lot of things, especially on risk factors which need to be eliminated in order to experience the best result possible.
Before going under extensive (and expensive) dental procedures in order to treat this condition, you should always ask for more opinions and advices. You can always use the Internet as your source of information, but it’s best to ask some other dentists in your local area which might either confirm the treatment decision or go for something against it. Dental colleges can also be a great source of information and advices given by people working in this area.
Maintaining Your Oral Hygiene on a High Level
Regular oral hygiene rules apply here – brush your teeth often and thoroughly, using fluoride rich toothpaste. Don’t forget about flossing as this is one of the most efficient hygiene tools you can get and they are dirt cheap. These will make sure that you remove any leftovers or plaque in between your teeth, where these can often be found. Don’t be afraid of your dentist, pay him a visit every once in a while for a regular checkup.
Are There Any Additional Issues?
There are many assumptions about gum diseases causing a whole list of serious health conditions, among which most mentionable are heart conditions and deliveries of low birth weight babies. However, there are no hard evidences to go with in order to confirm these as being completely true.
However, people with gum diseases might have health problems which can be recognized by the presence of the problem itself – it’s less likely that gum disease causes anything more serious. In a lot of cases you will find gum issues to share the same date of diagnosis as some other conditions.
Generally speaking, it’s best to say that bad oral hygiene can indicate a risky behavior which can cause more serious health problems.