Address One Key Root Cause In Order to Heal Periodontitis
As we get older, many of us forget the importance of taking care of our teeth. Thus, we may develop oral problems like cavities or gum problems. Many of us are unaware that a lax attitude towards dental health may lead to a slew of medical conditions in the future. Studies show that people with dental lesions are at a greater risk of developing many serious health problems. This is why one’s oral regimen should be considered just as important as cardiovascular exercise and healthy eating. Sadly, many people are not aware of the link between poor oral hygiene and medical conditions until it is too late.
Periodontal disease is a common dental problem that affects many adults. This condition is also called advanced gum disease. It is a dental condition that affects the gums/gingiva, alveolar bone, cementum and the periodontal ligament. It can be divided into two categories, gingivitis (early stage of gum disease) and periodontitis (advanced stage). Please note that some cases of gingivitis do not become periodontitis. However, every case of periodontitis is attributed to a case of gingivitis.
What Causes Advanced Gum Disease?
The human mouth is the dirtiest part of the body, simply because the oral cavity is home to many types of bacteria. A person with poor oral hygiene will develop plaque, a soft and translucent white substance. Brushing and flossing get rid of plaque, as do regular visits to the dentist for thorough prophylaxis treatments. However, people who do not clean their teeth properly will notice the plaque harden and evolve into tartar, a hard and shell-like substance. Please note that plaque and tartar are ideal breeding grounds for harmful bacteria. If your plaque and tartar deposits invade the subgingival level, you are at greater risk for periodontitis and gingivitis.
Risk Factors for Gum Disease
There are many factors that contribute to gum disease. Certain factors can put you at risk of this dental condition.
- Diabetes: People who have diabetes are more prone to developing infections, including gum problems. If you smoke, here is one more reason to quit.
- Smokers: Smoking increases your risk of developing gum disease as well.
- Unbalanced Hormones: Hormone changes in females, especially during pregnancy, is another factor that should be considered.
- Compromised Immune System: Individuals who have immune disorders like AIDS or cancer are prone to gingivitis and periodontitis.
- Prescription Medication or Drug Use: Some forms of medication that inhibit saliva production or those that cause abnormal gum tissue overgrowth may increase your risk of developing gum problems.
- Family History: Research also shows that some people are genetically susceptible to periodontal problems. Thus, individuals with parents who suffer from gum disease should take better preventive measures. Lastly, studies also show that high-stress levels can lead to periodontal problems as well.
Bacteria can cause gum inflammation and discomfort. The most common symptoms are red/purple, swollen, painful and bleeding gingiva. Bad breath or halitosis may also be present. It is important to note that the area will be swollen and engorged. Thus, normal stippling will not be seen. The condition may be generalized or localized. Gingivitis is a mild form of periodontal disease.
Your best bet to prevent further problems would be a trip to your dentist. He or she will make use of x-rays and a periodontal probe to check if the lesion has infected the periodontal ligament, bone, and other internal structures. Treatment may include the use of medicated rinses to kill the bacteria. A patient will also be advised to brush and floss thoroughly. Luckily, with proper dental hygiene and frequent visits to a dentist, you can reverse the problem as no bone tissue is lost.
Treating gingivitis is easier, as it has not infected the alveolar bone, periodontal ligament, and cementum. Therefore, a dentist will usually start with scaling and debridement. This is done with the use of a scaler, either manual or electric-powered. This process is done to remove any tartar or plaque found below and above the gum line. Local anesthesia is used to minimize the discomfort.
NSAID mouth rinses may also be prescribed as part of the aftercare routine. This medicated mouth rinse should be used for the prescribed period of time. A patient is asked to schedule a reevaluation check-up about one month after the treatment to ensure that the infection has cleared out.
If you stick to the aftercare guidelines, the disease will not evolve into periodontitis. However, if you start reverting to poor oral hygiene maintenance, the consequences will be severe.
Gingivitis is always a precursor to periodontitis, which is a severe form of gum disease that involves internal structures like the periodontal ligament, alveolar bone, and the cementum, which are structures that surround and support the teeth. This is a slow yet steady condition that causes loss of bone density around the teeth. If this condition is left untreated, the teeth may become loose and thus, fall out in time. Just like gingivitis, this condition is caused by microorganisms that stick to and grow on tooth structures, and an aggressive immune response of the body is unleashed.
Periodontitis can cause increased inflammation, making a person more prone to myocardial infarctions, stroke, and even atherosclerosis.
A person with periodontitis will exhibit many symptoms related to gingivitis.
Symptoms of Periodontitis
- Bleeding Gums: Brushing, flossing or biting into hard food can cause the affected area to turn red or bleed.
- Swollen Gums: A recurrence of gum swelling may be noted. The patient may spit out blood after brushing his or her teeth.
- Gum Recession: The affected teeth may appear longer, due to gingival recession.
- Chronic Bad Breath: Bad breath or halitosis is usually present.
- Deep Pockets and Gaps between teeth: A person may also notice deep pockets around the affected teeth. These are caused by enzymes that destroy collagen or collagenases. The teeth in the area may loosen in the later stages. Please note that a patient may experience no pain. Therefore, if you have any of the symptoms, it would be best to seek out dental treatment as soon as possible.
- Loose Teeth. One of the consequences of periodontitis is tooth loss. If a person does nothing, then they eventually will loose teeth, requiring dentures.
Periodontitis is a severe condition that can disfigure a person and lead to a slew of medical conditions, most of which are fatal. This is why maintaining proper oral hygiene is the best way to ensure that you are safe from both gingivitis and periodontitis.
- Brushing at least twice daily can lessen your risk. Make sure that you brush your teeth with a soft-bristled brush to prevent gum recession. It would also be smart to avoid rubbing the gum area too vigorously. Make sure you brush each surface gently but thoroughly, paying special attention to the lingual surface of each tooth, as that is the area that is commonly neglected.
- Flossing should be part of your daily oral hygiene regimen. Make certain that you floss each area properly, especially in the areas between the molars, as they are the teeth that handle a major part of the mastication process. You might also want to invest in interdental brushes, as they make the job easier.
- Natural Mouth rinses can help prevent gum disease as well. However, avoid those that contain alcohol, as it can induce xerostomia or dry mouth. This will make it easier for the bacteria to adhere to the tooth surfaces. Please note that some mouth rinses are composed of chemicals that can cause more harm than good. Therefore, it would be advisable not to experiment. It would also be best to ask your dentist for suggestions, as he or she would have an idea of which products work best. He or she may prescribe rinses that are made of natural sources, which are gentle for your oral cavity. Remember to ask for rinses that are composed of natural ingredients to ensure that it is safe for long-term use.
- Regular dental checkups are a must. Visit your dentist at least twice a year. However, if you are diabetic, take medicines that may increase your risk of gum problems or have a family history of periodontal disease, you should visit your dentist more frequently.
- Eating healthy is another way to avoid gum problems. If you change your diet to include foods that are touted for their antioxidant properties, you can improve your oral health and your quality of life as well. Antioxidants help prevent and control inflammation. They aid the body by boosting our immunity. Oranges, acerola cherries, guavas, green tea and many leafy greens contain antioxidants that can improve your immunity.
It is time to take a stand against harmful bacteria. Protect your teeth and the rest of your body from diseases by ensuring that your mouth is free from infection. Prevention is better than cure, especially when it comes to periodontal disease. This is why it is so important to keep your oral cavity as healthy as possible. Choose safe yet effective products for your teeth and avoid products that contain additives that can cause xerostomia (dry mouth). If you have any signs of gum recession, shift to soft-bristled brushes and brush the gum area gently, just enough to ensure plaque removal without doing harm to your frail gingiva. Please keep in mind that receding gums provide bacteria an easy way to invade the structures surrounding your teeth. If you have receding gums you are more vulnerable to periodontitis.
Prevention is preferred over cure, especially when it comes to dental diseases. Your teeth are made of a strong and mineral-rich enamel coating that is supposed to be sturdy enough to withstand daily wear and tear. They will only start breaking down if they are not properly taken care of. Therefore, with proper dental supervision, healthy eating habits, and an impeccable oral hygiene, you can keep your permanent teeth in perfect condition until you are old and gray.
Periodontitis Treatment Options
Since periodontitis is a severe condition, it will take more than a single visit to help minimize the risks and help restore the mouth. Just like gingivitis, it is important to remove the plaque and tartar deposits to prevent re-infection. Furthermore, the steps taken in prevention should be continued in the treatment phase.
Scaling and debridement are done to ensure the removal of plaque and tartar. This is a non-surgical procedure that makes use of a scaler. The dentist has to remove any deposits found above and below the gumline with this instrument.
Root planing may be necessary as well if the plaque or tartar has reached the root. This is done using curettes. A thin layer of cementum is removed along with the calculus. To ensure that the patient does not experience any discomfort, the dentist will usually opt to use local anesthesia. Please note that the dentist may also opt to adjust the bite or occlusion of a patient to minimize excessive forces to the teeth which have received treatment.
Multiple Dental Visits for Evaluation. Once the process is complete, a dentist will schedule a patient for a reevaluation, usually a month and a half after the initial procedure. During reevaluation, the area is checked for inflammation. While it is not probed, periodontal charting is done to check if the treatment is successful. Please remember that the efficacy of the treatment may depend on the depth of the periodontal pocket. If it is under 4 to five mm, there is a greater chance of full recuperation.
Periodontal Surgery. If there is little to no success, a dentist will schedule the person for periodontal surgery. This is usually done for cases of advanced periodontitis. The treatments involved may be:
- Open flap debridement and even osseous surgery (bone surgery).
- Receding Gums Surgery. Gum grafts may be necessary if receded gums are noticeable. Many times it is necessary to pull away the gum flaps in order to clean out destructive bacteria that is below.
- Bone grafting and guided tissue regeneration are usually employed as well. This is done to ensure complete calculus removal and to correct any bone irregularities caused by the severity of the disease.
Maintenance and Care. After the surgery is done, a patient will be asked to better care for his or her teeth with a post-operative periodontal maintenance regimen. This may employ medicated mouth washes. The patient may be asked to visit the dentist once every month for checkups and have regular cleanings every three months to prevent the microorganisms from repopulating.
Stop Smoking! If you have already experienced advanced periodontitis, it would be best to avoid smoking. Studies show that periodontal procedures have little to no effect on smokers. As these procedures are tedious and not to mention costly, it would be best to quit smoking to ensure the efficacy of the treatment. People who smoke have a less chance of complete recuperation, as smoking decreases the blood flow to the mouth, making it harder for the areas to heal properly.