Gum disease can lead to tooth loss and other systemic health issues
You may have experienced bleeding and swollen gums due to gingivitis, an early and reversible gum disease. When you fail to get treatment for gingivitis, it can develop into periodontitis, a severe gum disease. Like individuals with gingivitis, those with periodontitis may experience swollen and tender gums that bleed during tooth brushing. However, with periodontitis, there is also infection or inflammation that can go deep into the gums.
Periodontitis can cause pain, bad breath, and poor health. When sticky plaque builds up on the teeth and below the gum line, the tissue can begin to erode, and as a result, the gums recede, making chewing difficult and eventually exposing the tooth roots and underlying bone. Poor dental hygiene causes plaque buildup which contributes to periodontitis. Individuals with crowded teeth, dry mouth, and smokers have a greater chance of developing the condition. Heredity and osteoporosis can also put individuals at risk for periodontitis.
When left untreated, periodontitis can progress, and a patient can develop periodontal pockets, gaps or openings between the gums and teeth. Once a dentist evaluates the teeth and diagnoses a patient with periodontitis, it is time to develop a treatment plan to prevent the condition from getting worse. The initial treatment for periodontitis includes deep cleaning that removes plaque and tartar from the teeth, gums, and roots.
Deep cleaning involves scaling or removing the plaque and tartar from the gums, the base of the teeth, and roots. Before the deep cleaning, one of our dentists administers a local anesthetic. Root planing smooths the root surfaces, while removing tartar and bacteria. Our dentists may prescribe medication and a mouth rinse to help with pain and healing after the procedure. Deep cleaning is necessary to help periodontal pockets shrink and the gums heal. After the initial treatment, we will schedule the patient for maintenance visits.
Sometimes tartar and plaque collect in areas that are hard to reach. If the pockets are deep with infection and bone deterioration, surgery may be the next step in addressing the issue. A dentist will make incisions in the gum to reach the root during surgery, allowing for deeper scaling and planing. The dentist also removes inflamed tissue and addresses bone problems. Surgery can reduce the size of periodontal pockets and save teeth.
After a dentist completes the initial treatment, a patient benefits from periodontal maintenance, because bacteria can return to the previously affected areas and cause concerns. Periodontal maintenance therapy keeps the gums and teeth healthy and helps patients avoid recurring issues. Frequent visits for ongoing treatment are essential to keep periodontal disease under control.
Persistent periodontal disease can contribute to other health issues. Infection from the gums can travel to other areas of the body via the bloodstream. Health experts have linked gum disease to high blood pressure and other illnesses. Infection can cause inflammation in the heart valves and vessels, leading to high blood pressure and heart disease. Inflammation from periodontitis can also increase a person's risk for severe respiratory infections, making it harder to recover from illnesses like Covid. Since periodontitis can worsen some illnesses, it is important to follow your dentist's recommendations for regular periodontal maintenance.
The follow-up treatment for periodontitis differs from typical teeth cleaning or prophylaxis. A periodontal maintenance cleaning involves removing plaque and tartar from the teeth and cleaning the areas deep within the gums. More intense than a standard cleaning, the process disrupts bacteria to prevent it from growing to high levels. Additionally, rinsing the pockets in the gums with antiseptic may also be necessary to treat inflammation or infection.
The patient must practice good dental hygiene between dental visits to keep the teeth and gums healthy. Plaque buildup is the primary cause of periodontitis, and it can take as little as 24 hours for plaque to turn into tartar. When a patient is diligent about brushing, flossing, and rinsing the mouth to prevent plaque and tartar from building up, those measures can help prevent serious issues from developing. Eating fewer sugary foods and consuming healthier options like fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products can support overall health and strengthen the teeth.
It is vital to keep periodontal maintenance therapy appointments. As plaque and tartar collect on the surfaces of the teeth, gums, and roots, bacteria in and around the gums can grow to high levels, leading to serious health complications. Skipping an appointment and waiting six months or more allows periodontitis to worsen; it can also mean the next visit will require extensive treatment. Missing an appointment can impact a patient's overall health and make it more challenging to recover from other illnesses. When a patient needs to postpone an appointment, they should call the office and reschedule as soon as possible. Periodontal disease is a chronic condition, so maintenance is usually a lifetime commitment.
Periodontitis could be responsible if you experience bleeding gums, pain, and difficulty eating. The condition can leave you feeling less energetic because of the inflammatory effect on the body. Our dentists and team can evaluate your dental status and tell you if you are a candidate for periodontal disease treatment and maintenance. Don't put your health and well-being in jeopardy by ignoring your dental health. Avoid the problems that may come with periodontitis. Contact us to schedule your appointment for a consultation, and let our dentists and staff help you achieve healthier teeth and gums.