Periodontal diseases are infections that affect the tissue and bone that support teeth. Periodontal disease is often painless and for that reason can go untreated. However, early diagnosis of periodontal disease can help prevent costly treatment or worse, loss of teeth.
Contact our offices today to schedule periodontal treatment.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal diseases are infections that affect the gum tissue and bone supporting your teeth.These infections are fairly common, but they are serious. The good news is that, with treatment, you can prevent the possibility of tooth loss.
The word periodontal literally means “around the tooth,” and in a healthy mouth, the gum tissue fits around each tooth like a cuff. Where the gum meets the tooth, it forms a slight v-shaped crevice called a sulcus. If your gums are free from infection, this crevice should measure three millimeters or less in depth.
But an infection can lead to gum tissue damage where the sulcus develops into a pocket greater than three millimeters. These enlarged pockets allow harmful bacteria to grow while also making it difficult to practice effective oral hygiene. Untreated periodontal disease may eventually lead to tooth loss.
Symptoms of Periodontal Disease
These warning signs could signal a problem. If you notice any of the following, see your periodontist:
- Gums that bleed easily
- Red, swollen or tender gums
- Gums that have pulled away from your teeth
- Persistent bad breath
- Pus between the teeth and gums
- Loose or separating teeth
- A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- A change in the fit of partial dentures
However, it’s possible to have periodontal disease even if you don’t experience any symptoms. That’s why regular dental checkups and periodontal examinations are so important.
Causes of Periodontal Disease
Your mouth is filled with countless bacteria - some good and some harmful. Plaque - the sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on your teeth and the surfaces lining your mouth - contains bad bacteria that produces toxins and enzymes that irritate the gums and cause inflammation. Even if you don’t feel any pain, the inflammation can damage the attachment of gum and bone to your teeth.
Good oral hygiene – brushing twice a day and flossing (or using another interdental cleaner once a day) – helps reduce the plaque film. Plaque that is not removed regularly can harden into rough porous deposits called calculus or tartar. The pores in tartar hold bacteria and toxins, which are impossible to remove with regular brushing. Once the hardened tartar forms, only a professional cleaning can remove it.
Periodontal Disease Risk Factors
- Smoking or Chewing Tobacco - People who smoke or chew tobacco are at greater risk of developing periodontal diseases. Tobacco users are much more likely than non-users to develop plaque and tartar on their teeth. They also are more likely to have deeper pockets between their teeth and gums and greater loss of bone and tissue that support the teeth. Periodontal treatment is also less successful in patients who continue to use tobacco.
- Systemic Diseases - Systemic diseases like diabetes, blood cell disorders, HIV infections, and AIDS can reduce the body’s resistance to infection and increase the severity of periodontal diseases.
- Medications – Certain medications can cause gum inflammation, bleeding, oral sores, fungal growth, or dry mouth (which can irritate soft tissue due to a lack of saliva). Steroids, some types of anti-epilepsy drugs, blood pressure prescriptions, and oral contraceptives are among the many medications that can affect your gums. Even over-the-counter products like antihistamines, decongestants, pain relievers, and antacids can potentially cause harm. Update your medical history files at the dental office to include all medications and note any changes that occur in your health.
- Bridges and Fillings - Bridges that no longer fit properly, crooked or crowded teeth, or fillings that have become defective may hold plaque in place and increase the risk of developing periodontal disease.
- Hormonal Changes - Puberty, pregnancy and oral contraceptives change the body’s hormone levels. This can cause gum tissue to become more sensitive to toxins and enzymes and can accelerate bacterial growth.
- Genetics - Patients with a family history of tooth loss or who have parents wearing dentures should pay particular attention to their gums. These patients may be predisposed to a more aggressive and severe type of periodontal disease.
- Infection Via Contact - Some studies suggest that periodontal disease can be contagious and spread by coming in contact with the saliva of an infected person
Types of Periodontal Disease
Gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontal disease. It causes the gums to become red, swollen and bleed easily. There is usually little or no discomfort at this stage. Gingivitis is reversible with professional treatment and good oral care at home.
Chronic periodontitis is the most frequently occurring form of periodontal disease. It generally afflicts adults, but other ages are susceptible to it as well. Chronic periodontitis causes inflammation within the supporting tissue of the teeth, and affected patients experience progressive loss of tissue attachment and bone. Although the progression of attachment loss usually occurs slowly, periods of rapid progression are also possible.
Aggression periodontitis is a highly destructive form of periodontal disease that occurs in patients who are otherwise clinically healthy. Common features include rapid loss of tissue attachment and destruction of bone. This disease may occur in localized or generalized patterns.
Periodontitis as a Manifestation of Systemic Diseases is a form of periodontal disease associated with one of several systemic diseases, such as diabetes. Patients who have rare but specified blood diseases or genetic disorders frequently show signs of periodontal disease.
Necrotizing Periodontal Diseases is also known as Necrotizing Ulcerative Periodontitis (NUP). These infections are characterized by necrosis (death) of gingival tissue, periodontal ligament and alveolar bone. Contributing factors can include emotional stress, tobacco use and HIV infection. The ulcers are most commonly associated with pain, bleeding and foul breath.
Periodontal Disease Treatment
If you’ve been diagnosed with periodontal disease, you’ll be relieved to know that periodontal diseases can often be treated successfully. Treatment has many benefits. You’ll increase the chances of keeping your natural teeth – and decrease the chances of serious health problems associated with periodontal diseases.
Scaling, Root Planing, and Periodontal Surgery
The first non-surgical step usually involves a special cleaning, called scaling and root planing. Scaling and root planing - sometimes referred to as “deep cleaning” - removes plaque and tartar deposits on tooth and root surfaces. This procedure helps gum tissue heal and periodontal pockets shrink. A local anesthetic may be used to make you more comfortable, and the treatment may be scheduled for one or more visits.
Medications, if Necessary
Central Texas Periodontics may prescribe medication to control infection, alleviate pain, and to aid in healing gum tissue. Medications could include a pill, a mouth rinse, or a substance that the hygienist places directly in the periodontal gum pocket after scaling and root planing. Central Texas Periodontics may also stress the need to control any systemic diseases, like diabetes.
When periodontal pockets do not heal after scaling and root planing, we’ll recommend surgery to better remove inflamed tissue and reduce the damage to the bone that has formed around the teeth. As the pockets enlarge, they provide a greater place for bacteria to live and attack the bone and tissue.
Surgery allows the dentist to access hard-to-reach areas under the gum and along the roots where tartar and plaque have accumulated. Eliminating this bacterial stronghold and regenerating bone and tissue help to reduce pockets and repair damage by the progressing disease.
Your periodontist may recommend also recommend a bone or gum graft to regenerate lost bone and tissue.
Periodontal Disease Treatment in Central Texas
If you notice any of the warning signs of periodontal disease, it’s best to get an evaluation as quickly as possible. Central Texas Periodontics is a family-owned practiced that’s been caring for patients since 2006. Our periodontists are trained to accurately diagnose and treat existing periodontal disease as well as provide preventative care.
Contact us online or call 512-798-4758 to make an appointment at one of our four convenient locations.