Complete Periodontal Maintenance

Periodontal Disease: Everything You Need to Know

The mouth is one of the essential organs in our body. It's where we taste, talk, chew and swallow food. And it also houses a system of tooth-supporting structures called periodontal tissues necessary for keeping teeth healthy. But if these tissues become damaged by bacteria or other factors, they can cause severe damage to your teeth and gums, leading to conditions like periodontal disease.

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory condition affecting your gums and other supporting tissue, such as the bones and ligaments that hold your teeth in place.

The most common form of this condition is Gingivitis, which causes your gums to become swollen, red, and irritated. Left untreated, it can develop into periodontitis, the severe form of gum disease that causes bone loss around the teeth. If not treated in time, this bone loss can eventually cause teeth to fall out.

Symptoms of periodontal disease

Some of the most common symptoms of periodontal disease include:

Red and swollen gums

Patients with periodontal disease may notice that their gums are bleeding when they brush. This is because the disease weakens the tissues in your mouth and leaves them more susceptible to infection. If you see blood on your toothbrush, it's a good idea to make an appointment with a dentist, even if you think your brushing technique is adequate.

Bad Breath

Bad breath is often the first indicator of gum disease. Bacteria that live in pockets formed by damaged periodontal tissues can cause your breath to smell unpleasant. The worst part about bad breath is that it can be a sign of something more serious, like diabetes or lung cancer, so make sure you see your dentist if you notice bad breath.

Gum pain or tenderness

Another common symptom of periodontal disease is pain or tenderness in your gums. If you notice that your gums are painful to the touch, it's essential to schedule an appointment with a dentist as soon as possible.

Loose teeth

If your gums pull away from your teeth and start to leave gaps between them, your teeth can become loose and even fall out. This is caused by gum recession, which, as the name suggests, occurs when your gums pull away from your teeth. If left untreated, periodontal disease has increased heart disease and stroke risk.

If you notice any of these symptoms, make an appointment immediately with your dentist, who will be able to diagnose the condition and provide treatment options for you.

Causes of periodontal disease

Several risk factors increase the likelihood of developing periodontal disease. These include:

Poor oral hygiene

People with periodontal disease often neglect their oral hygiene and don't take care of their teeth, gums, or mouth. However, even if you take excellent care of your teeth and gums at home, this won't protect you from gum disease.

Poor oral hygiene can lead to plaque, a sticky substance containing bacteria, which can cause gum disease. Plaque bacteria build up on your teeth and cause them to become infected with the disease.

Genetic predisposition
Hormonal changes
Tobacco use

Treatment options for patients with established periodontal disease

To discuss their treatment options, patients with this condition should visit a Periodontist, a dentist specializing in conditions that affect the gums and bones supporting the teeth.

Patients with mild to moderate forms of gum disease that have not progressed beyond the bone are often recommended to practice good oral hygiene through brushing and flossing and undergo professional cleanings every 3-4 months.

These treatments can help patients reduce their risk of developing periodontitis. Suppose you have more severe forms of this condition or suffer from periodontitis. In that case, your Periodontist may recommend surgery or laser therapy to remove the diseased tissue and close any affected spaces.

Tips for maintaining a healthy mouth and avoiding gum recession/periodontitis altogether

Brushing and flossing daily

The easiest way to prevent gum disease is to maintain good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes each time, making sure to brush all areas of your mouth. Floss daily removes food particles and plaque that can irritate your gums and cause inflammation.

Scheduling regular dental cleanings

Make sure to schedule regular dental cleanings, especially if you have a history of gum disease in your family. During these appointments, your dentist can examine your mouth and discuss with you any necessary changes to your oral hygiene routine or treatment options.

Quitting smoking and limiting alcohol intake

Another significant risk factor for periodontal disease is cigarette smoking. If you smoke, it's essential to quit to reduce your risk of getting this condition.

Alcohol can also irritate gums and cause them to become more susceptible to infection, so limit your alcohol intake or avoid it together if you want to lower your risk of developing periodontal disease.

Drinking plenty of water throughout the day

It's normal to feel thirsty after eating or drinking a hot beverage, but it's best not to drink too much, even on those occasions. Drinking water regularly is an easy way to maintain healthy gums and teeth.

Periodontal disease is a severe condition that must be caught and treated early. Many people don't know how crucial it is to their dental health to visit the dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups. While some symptoms might seem normal, like bad breath, they could signify disease. It's simple to take care of your teeth before periodontal disease strikes by practicing good oral hygiene daily, scheduling regular dental cleanings every six months, and quitting smoking. By being proactive about your dental health, you can have a more comfortable smile for years to come.

References

Janakiram, Chandrashekar, and Bruce A. Dye. "A public health approach for prevention of periodontal disease." Periodontology 2000 84.1 (2020): 202-214. https://doi.org/10.1111/prd.12337

Hajishengallis, George, and Triantafyllos Chavakis. "Local and systemic mechanisms linking periodontal disease and inflammatory comorbidities." Nature Reviews Immunology 21.7 (2021): 426-440. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41577-020-00488-6

Loesche, Walter J. "Microbiology of dental decay and periodontal disease." Medical Microbiology. 4th edition (1996). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK8259/


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