Gum disease (Periodontal Disease) is responsible for about 70 percent of adult tooth loss. It is characterized by swollen, inflamed gums surrounding the teeth. Plaque, a sticky substance that forms in the mouth from food, saliva and bacteria gets inside the space between the gum line and the tooth. If not removed, plaque hardens into a substance called calculus or tartar that is very difficult to remove. Eventually, the bacteria in the plaque and tartar eat away at the fibers that hold the gums to the teeth, creating deep pockets. As bacteria spread, the pockets become deeper until the bacteria finally destroy the bone that holds the tooth in place.
Think of it as if bugs are eating away at the soil around a tree trunk. Eventually, they eat away all of the soil and part of the tree’s roots, causing the tree to collapse.
Gum disease is diagnosed through a process that measures the depth of the pockets around each tooth. Pockets that are greater than 3 millimeters in depth are considered hazardous and will generally require treatment.
The early detection and prevention of gum disease is another reason to see your dentist regularly.
Lower Anterior Calculus
Radiographic Calculus (ledges)
Gum disease is treated by carefully removing the bacteria and substances that form in the pockets around the teeth. The removal of this material occurs on a microscopic level and requires great skill. Our dental team has had advanced training regarding how to effectively remove all of the bacteria.
This process of removing the bacteria may require more than one first visits to our office. Once the bacteria have been removed, the pockets must be cleaned and maintained on a regular basis by a certified dental hygienist. Otherwise, the bacteria will return.
Keep in mind that once you have contracted periodontal disease, you will always have the disease due to the damage that it does to your body. Careful daily hygiene and regular dental visits to clean your pockets are required to keep the bacteria from returning. After the initial dental appointments to remove the bacteria, you will be placed on a regular appointment schedule called “periodontal maintenance” to keep your pockets free of bacteria.
Remember, it is always better to prevent disease than to treat disease.
Did you know that people with gum disease are FOUR more times likely to be afflicted with Heart Disease that people who don’t?
That’s right. Recent studies at the University of Minnesota confirm that a chronic infection in your mouth (which is what Periodontal Disease is) allows the bacteria to enter your blood stream. These bacteria may cause blood clots and block your arteries, possibly even triggering a heart attack.
Other studies have shown that plaque entering the bloodstream through infected gums may also cause a potentially fatal heart disease called infective endocarditis. This is a bacterial infection which causes the sac around the heart to become inflamed.
Therefore, it is crucial that periodontal (gum) disease is treated as soon as it is detected.
Did You Know? Mothers with severe periodontal disease are seven times more likely to deliver pre-term, low-birth weight babies?, according to a study of 124 pregnant women conducted at the University of North Carolina and published 1996 in the Journal of Periodontology.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina think this is due to the body’s reaction to the bacteria in the gums infected with periodontitis.
When you have periodontal disease, bacteria toxins attack the bone, ligaments and gums that surround your teeth. You essentially have a large open wound in your mouth that creates a doorway for bacteria to enter your body through your bloodstream.
How can you reduce your risks of serious health ailments that may be due to Periodontal Disease?
- Have regular exams at our office
- Have your teeth cleaned AT LEAST twice a year, sometimes more frequently if you build up plaque quickly
- Brush and floss regularly…AND remember to see us often
Scientists have discovered a link between periodontal (gum) disease and respiratory infections. In fact, if you suffer from periodontal disease, you may be breathing bacteria into your lungs everyday from the infection in your gums.