Periodontal disease means disease “around (peri-) the tooth (odontal)”. This common condition is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults and therefore a major public health concern.
When teeth are not properly and consistently cleaned, bacteria and mucus begin to form a film on the surface of the tooth known as plaque. Plaque accumulates over time and hardens into tartar. As tartar builds around the gum line a condition known as gingivitis develops. This is the earliest stage of periodontal disease. Gingivitis is the infection and inflammation of the gum tissue around the base of the tooth and is caused by the bacteria found in accumulating tartar and the toxins they release. The presence of these bacteria and toxins stimulate the body’s immune system to attack the infected tissue and break down these tissues over time. Gingivitis advances to periodontal disease when the unchecked tartar and bacteria work further down below the gum line to the base of the tooth. Advanced periodontal disease results from the body’s inflammation response attacking not only the gum tissue, but also the bone and connective tissue holding the tooth in its socket. Ultimately, the teeth will begin to loosen and eventually fall out. This preventable process not only affects oral health but has also been linked to conditions such as heart disease and stroke. Dr. Stunkel and staff at Quail Creek Dental are ready to help you prevent this potentially debilitating condition from occurring in your mouth.
Symptoms of Peridontal Disease
People may not experience any symptoms in the early stages of periodontal disease. Therefore, this process often goes unnoticed until it has reached an advanced stage. Once at a more advanced stage the following symptoms become more and more apparent:
- Sore or sensitive gums
- Bleeding gums when brushing
- Receding gum line
- Persistent bad breath
- Loosening teeth
- Changes in tooth alignment or bite
Prevention of Periodontal Disease
The good news about periodontal disease is that it is preventable. The most important steps one can take to prevent this condition involve maintaining proper dental hygiene through daily brushing and flossing. Regular dental check ups and cleanings are also essential to preventing this issue from developing. Other factors that can lead to periodontal disease include smoking, diabetes, poor diet, chronic stress, and genetic predisposition.
Treatment of Periodontal Disease
Once serious periodontal disease has developed there are a number of treatment options to keep the condition from worsening. Deep cleanings, including scaling and root planing, shave the tartar from the base of the tooth below the gum line. Antibiotic therapy may be suggested in more advanced cases. This can involve the use of antiseptic mouthwashes or oral antibiotics in pill form, such as minocycline or doxycycline. Surgery may be necessary in the most serious cases. Flap surgery involves folding back the gums to thoroughly clean below the gum line and then suturing the gums back together to heal and tighten the connection of the tooth and its socket. In addition to flap surgery, bone/tissue grafts can be performed to help regenerate the bone and connective tissue lost to periodontal disease. Finally, dental implants may need to be performed if periodontal disease leads to the loss of a tooth or teeth.