What is Periodontal Disease?

Millions of people make regular visits to their dentists each year in order to have their teeth cleaned and examined. They are working to maintain the condition of their teeth and gums, and also to combat the conditions which can put teeth at great risk. One of the primary efforts of a dental hygienist is to ensure their patients do not get “Gingivitis” which is a bacterial infection of some of the tissue in the mouth. This is because Gingivitis frequently leads to a condition known as “Periodontal Disease” which is the leading cause of tooth death.

The teeth are living organisms, full of blood and lymph vessels as well as nerve endings, and this is why certain dental problems can cause a tooth to hurt and ache. Additionally, the gums and bones surrounding teeth are alive as well, and they too will respond to a lack of hygiene, disease and infection. When gum tissue becomes progressively infected it may cause the bone around the teeth to recede, and the gums themselves may not recede at all. This leaves the roots of the tooth exposed to bacteria and decay. When this happens pus and fluid may build up between the gum and the tooth only worsening the problem. Visual indicators may not always be present, but there will usually be some sensitivity in the area of the infection and there may be some bleeding during brushing, the gums may look swollen or unnaturally red in color and a person may develop chronic bad breath. While poor dental hygiene is the most common contributing factor to Periodontal Disease, the gums can also be affected by medical conditions such as diabetes or kidney disorders, some medications have side effects that cause problems for the mouth and gums, teeth grinding and jaw clenching put strain on the tissue within the mouth, and certain hormonal or chemical changes in the body can change the composition of the mouth.

In order to address gum disease a patient must first understand any underlying causes, and make any changes where necessary. For example, for those who grind their teeth there are a number of “guards” and mouthpieces meant to limit the damage sustained from such behaviors. Additionally, a regimen of treatment must be started immediately in order to combat any damage or problems that have occurred. An evaluation will be done by the dentist, and it will address the daily removal of plaque, which can include brushing, flossing and anti-biotic rinses. The next item addressed is the amount of tartar on the teeth, which must be removed professionally. This can often include such procedures as deep scaling and root planning if bone has receded and decay has all ready started. If bone has all ready been compromised there are a variety of procedures that may be performed, from tissue regeneration and grafts to laser therapies intended to diminish the size of pockets between the tooth and gum tissue. Any expense is well worth it because gum disease has been connected to the development of such medical conditions as diabetes and heart disease. The loss of a tooth weakens the jaw and presents a host of other problems to the individual in question. Any work or effort at mending and maintaining natural teeth will be repaid in better overall health and wellness.