What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is where the gums become infected and inflamed due to levels of bacteria in the mouth being allowed to build up. It is often caused by poor oral hygiene, but certain people with compromised immune systems, for example diabetics or people with other systemic diseases are more susceptible towards developing periodontal disease as they are not so able to fight off the infection.
Symptoms of periodontal disease can include:
Red, tender or swollen gums
Gums that bleed very easily when brushed or flossed
Noticing spaces have developed in between your teeth or that they begin to feel loose
Developing any of these symptoms is reason to visit Sparkle Dental for a check-up and diagnosis.
What are the Main Causes of Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is usually due to poor oral hygiene or having a weakened immune system, but there are other factors that could increase your risk of developing this disease. These include:
Smoking or chewing tobacco makes it easier for plaque to stick to the teeth, and impedes the body’s ability to heal
Hormonal changes during pregnancy increase sensitivity towards plaque, increasing the risk of infection
Certain medications increase the risk, including oral contraceptives, cancer therapy and steroids
Some people are genetically more susceptible towards developing periodontal disease
How Does Periodontal Disease Develop?
Bacteria are present in everyone’s mouth, and most will be removed through regular brushing and flossing. The numbers of bacteria build-up throughout the day, resulting in a plaque biofilm coating the teeth and gums. This is a sticky layer containing bacteria and other toxins that produce acids that irritate the gums. If this layer of plaque is not removed then plaque will soon harden into calculus or tartar, creating infection in the gums. The body tries to fight this infection through producing antibodies, resulting in inflammation in the gums. The inflammation causes the gums to become swollen, red and tender, and they are more likely to bleed whenever you brush or try to floss.
The mildest form of periodontal disease is called gingivitis, and it causes little or no discomfort. This is easily reversed through good professional dental care combined with improved oral hygiene at home. If the early symptoms of gum disease are ignored then it will develop into periodontal disease.
Advanced periodontal disease is quite a different matter, as the inflammatory response created by the infection results in the body turning on itself, destroying the gum tissues, the ligaments holding the teeth in their sockets, and the bone surrounding the teeth. The gums begin to pull away from the teeth, creating deep pockets around the teeth that are very difficult to keep clean. Eventually the destructive nature of this disease could mean teeth cannot be saved and they will have to be extracted.
Periodontal disease can become chronic, meaning an on-going treatment plan will be required to help halt the progression of the disease. Non-surgical treatment for periodontal disease includes scaling and root planing to help remove the infection from the gums, reducing the size of the pockets around the teeth. If there is extensive damage then surgery might be required to clean the pockets and repair damaged tissues.