Periodontal disease is one of the most common oral problems affecting adults in America. It is estimated that more than 80% of American adults suffer some degree of the disease and less than 60% of them even realize it. This explains why the condition is sometimes referred to as ‘the silent disease’. Its initial symptoms are often easy to miss and it is until it reaches a progressive stage that patients start to notice a difference in their gums and mouths. When left untreated, it can lead to tooth loss and overall systematic complications.
Popularly also known as gum disease or periodontitis, this is a progressive infection that affects the gums and the jawbone. It begins when bacteria are left to accumulate around the teeth and gums, to form plaque. Plaque is often removed by observing good oral hygiene. However, if you fail to properly brush and floss, the bacteria level increases to harmful levels that cause gums to become inflamed and bleed. At this point you will be diagnosed with gingivitis. Regular professional cleaning and good oral hygiene can however help reverse these early signs of gum disease.
When no action is taken to correct gingivitis, it will progress to periodontitis. In the early stages of periodontitis, the gums start to recede and tiny pocket begin to form between the teeth and the gums. These pockets create more room for bacteria to hide and are prone to infections. The immune system is therefore triggered to fight of off the bacteria. As the harmful bacteria and the body’s disease fighting cells begin to break down, toxins are produced which destroy the bone and connective tissues that keep the tooth in place. At this point you are in the mid-level phase of periodontitis and the symptoms are hard to ignore.
In the advanced stage of gum disease, the gums, bones and other supportive tissue that anchor the tooth are quickly deteriorating and there is increased likelihood to lose the tooth. Other symptoms you will experience include pain while chewing, bad breath, shifting or loose teeth, change in your bite and a bad taste in the mouth.
The good news is that periodontitis disease can be cured. In Mesa, dentists at Unique Dental Care, advise patients to go four routine dental check-ups to help catch the disease early or even prevent it. In the early stage when it is still gingivitis, dental cleanings that involve scaling and planning help to remove plaque and tartar deposits that cause the disease. thereafter, the gum tissue will heal and any existing periodontal pockets will shrink. You may also be given some medications to control the infection and manage any pain.
Medications for treating periodontitis can be in the form of pills, mouth rinses or some special materials that are inserted into the periodontal pocket, after scaling and root planning. After the initial treatment, your dentist will evaluate you to see if you are making any progress or there is need for further intervention, usually surgery.
Periodontal surgery is used to remove the inflamed tissue and to reduce any damage to the bone around the affected tooth. In flap/pocket reduction surgery, the gum tissue is lifted and any plaque or tartar hiding below it is removed. Any irregular surfaces on the bone around the tooth are also smoothened out to reduce areas where the harmful bacteria can hide. Thereafter the gums are sutured back in place whilst ensuring a snuggle fit. The result is less space between the tooth and gums and reduced risk of health complications related to periodontitis.
In cases where some level of bone loss has already occurred, bone grafting is done to help rebuild and reshape the bone that has been eaten away by the infection. For patients with severely receded gums, a tissue grafting is done to either reinforce the existing thin gums or to make up for places where the gum has receded. The tissue to be used is mostly taken from the roof of your mouth.
There are a number of factors that naturally put you at risk of periodontitis such hormonal changes like during pregnancy, certain illnesses like HIV/AIDS and genetics. Other causes like poor oral hygiene and bad habits such as smoking can easily be controlled. To learn more on what to do to prevent the disease or to control it, book an appointment at our Mesa clinic now!