What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal diseases are infections of the gums, which gradually destroy the support of your natural teeth. Dental plaque is the primary cause of gum disease in genetically susceptible individuals. Bacteria found in plaque produce toxins or poisons, which irritate the gums. They may cause them to turn red, swell and bleed easily. If this irritation is prolonged, the gums separate from the teeth, causing pockets (spaces) to form.
Plaque can also harden into a rough, porous substance known as calculus (or tartar). This can occur both above and below the gum line. As periodontal disease progresses, the supporting gum tissue and bone that holds teeth in place deteriorate. If left untreated, this leads to tooth loss. Periodontal disease is sometimes hard to recognize because there is often no pain, and may not be any bleeding, redness or swelling. Periodontitis is now the major cause of adult tooth loss (approximately 60%) and prevalence rates remain at 10-15% for severe disease, 50% for mild-moderate disease and 85% in 65-year-olds.
Periodontal treatment is necessary when various conditions affect the health of your gums and the regions of your jawbone that hold your teeth in place. Retaining your teeth is directly dependent on proper periodontal care and maintenance. Healthy gums enhance the appearance of your teeth, like a frame around a beautiful painting. When your gums become unhealthy, they can either recede or become swollen and red. In later stages, the supporting bone is destroyed and your teeth will shift, loosen, or fall out. These changes not only affect your ability to chew and speak. They also spoil your smile.
Preventing Gum Disease
Adults past the age of 35 lose more teeth to gum diseases than cavities. Three out of four adults are affected at some time in their life. The best way to prevent cavities and periodontal diseases is by good tooth brushing and flossing techniques, performed daily, and regular professional examinations and cleanings. Unfortunately, even with the most diligent home dental care, people still can develop some form of periodontal disease. Once this disease starts, professional intervention is necessary to prevent its progress.
Other important factors affecting the health of your gums include:
- Tobacco Usage
- Clenching and grinding teeth
- Poor nutrition
No matter how successful the periodontal treatment has been, ultimately you are most important in maintaining periodontal health. For maximum results, the patient must accept this role as a “co- therapist”. You must take “ownership” in achieving long-term success.
The first responsibility is to eliminate factors that increase susceptibility to periodontal disease. Some of these include smoking, diabetes and excessive use of alcohol.
Secondly, it is important to maintain daily plaque control. This is achieved through brushing and using other home care aids such as floss, interdental brushes and rubber tips. Most periodontal disease begins between the teeth therefore we will recommend hygiene aids for your oral hygiene routine.
Lastly, you are responsible for scheduling regular periodontal maintenance. The frequency of these visits will be determined by Dr. Mirzayan based on the level of your periodontal health. Most patients with moderate to advanced cases or patients who may be susceptible to periodontal disease should have periodontal maintenance appointments every three to four months for their lifetime. Maintaining this schedule is very important to controlling periodontal disease.