Research shows that approximately 80 percent of people have gum disease. So, if you feel you are suffering from any gum disease, you are not alone. Periodontal disease starts as a gum inflammation but can potentially damage the soft tissue and bone. Gums are a part of the mouth that need as much care as your teeth.
What is Gum disease or Periodontitis?
Periodontitis, also known as periodontal disease, is the infection or inflammation of the soft tissues that damages the supporting structure of a tooth and eventually leads to tooth loss. This condition leads to the production of toxins in the gums that can also harm the tooth and the bone surrounding it. Types of periodontitis:
- Chronic Periodontitis: This type mostly affects the adults and progresses over a long time.
- Aggressive Periodontitis: This type usually occurs in children and if untreated can cause severe bone loss.
- Necrotizing periodontal disease: There are chances of severe infection is mostly seen in patients with the suppressed immune system.
Some of the causes leading to periodontitis are:
- Poor oral hygiene: Lack of dental care can not only lead to dental problems but can also affect the gums. Bacteria starts collecting in the gums if the dental plaque is not cleaned regularly, it can cause gum diseases like gingivitis which eventually could turn into periodontitis.
- Hormonal changes in the body: Metabolic or hormonal changes that mostly occur in the body during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, can also lead to gum problems.
- Systemic diseases: Medical conditions like stroke, heart attack, and diabetes are known to be related to gum diseases. Diabetes causes fluctuation in the blood sugar level which can majorly affect the gums.
- Salivary flow: If the flow of saliva is affected it can lead to both gum and tooth problems. Lack of saliva production can be due to certain medications and dry mouth-syndrome that is usually seen in old patients.
- Functional habits: Sometimes habits like clenching or grinding of teeth can also lead to gum diseases.
- Smoking: Smoking is significantly associated with periodontitis. It can not only cause the disease but can also reduce the chances of many treatments succeeding.
- Genetics: Some people, regardless of the oral hygiene maintenance are more susceptible to periodontal diseases due to their genetics.
Symptoms to identify Periodontitis
Manhattan Cosmetic Dentist, Dr. Jaskaren Randhawa, believes that every patient should be aware of the oral condition and problems and if required visit their dentist as soon as they can. Here are some symptoms that help in identifying periodontitis:
- Swollen gums or puffy gums that reoccurs.
- Change of color of gums to bright red or purplish.
- Tenderness of gums.
- Bleeding from gums while brushing or while chewing.
- Presence of blood while spitting.
- Irregular shape of the gums.
- Presence of pus.
- Bad smell of mouth.
- Pain during chewing.
- Food lodgement.
- Loosening of teeth.
Who is a periodontist?
Periodontics is the division of dentistry that is recognized by the American Dental Association, which specializes in the care and nursing of the gums and supporting structures. The dentist that specializes in periodontics is known as a Periodontist.
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They first complete a dental degree and then specialize in periodontology for three more years. They are also permitted to do procedures like replacement of missing teeth and dental implants.
Treatment for Periodontitis
Treatment of periodontitis majorly depends on the stage or severity of the disease. The treatment options available are:
- Dental cleaning: Cleaning of the teeth is done in mild cases of gum disease. The dentist cleans the plaque that has been accumulated above and in your gums. If you are susceptible to gum diseases, it is recommended to get your teeth cleaned twice a year at least.
- Scaling and root-planing: It is a non-surgical procedure but is done under the effect of local anesthesia. It is done to remove the plaque and the hard whitish layer called calculus. Along with the cleaning, the root is also smoothened to remove all the rough areas which harbor bacteria.
In severe cases the only treatment option is surgery. The surgical procedures include:
- Flap surgery: This process involves surgically lifting the gums and removing the calculus or tartar. The roots are then smoothed to prevent accumulation of bacteria.
- Bone Grafts: Fragments from your bone is used to compensate for the bone loss due to periodontitis.
- Soft tissue grafts: Fragments of soft tissue from the mouth is used to replace the missing or receded gums.
- GTR: Guided Tissue Regeneration includes stimulating the bone regrowth in areas of bone loss.
- Bone surgery: It is done in the most advanced cases of bone loss where the craters of bone loss are smoothened to prevent bacteria accumulation.
Being aware and controlling your periodontal disease on time can save your precious teeth. So take good care of your teeth and gums and if you find any symptoms of periodontal disease, get your gums checked today!