Gum disease can do a lot of damage to one’s mouth in a very short amount of time if left unchecked. Periodontitis, which is from the Latin for “inflammation around the tooth,” is the most commonly diagnosed. The sad thing is that it’s actually quite avoidable, needing a minimal amount of time out of a person’s day.
People who get this aren’t just having to worry about having lost teeth – bacteria can enter the bloodstream and cause a variety of illnesses and conditions ranging from diabetes to heart disease to cancer. That’s why it’s important to keep one’s oral health at a peak – it improves the chances of the body also being in optimum condition.
The very early signs of gum disease tend to be inflammation of the gums and having them change color from pink to either red to purple depending on how infected they are. It can hurt to touch them and teeth may loosen. It can also be painful to chew food.
Periodontitis has several forms:
- Chronic – This is the most common diagnosis. Both children and adults can get it. There’s buildup of plaque and one’s gums can slowly deteriorate if it’s not treated.
- Aggressive – This form is rarer than the chronic . This usually starts when the patient is a child or young adult.
- Necrotizing – Gum tissue, supporting bone and tooth ligaments die here due to no blood supply being sent to this area. Immune-suppressed patients like those who have had chemotherapy for cancer or have HIV are at risk to have this happen.
Plaque forms daily on teeth, but regularly brushing and flossing each day removes it. If a dental routine is ignored, gingivitis, which is gum inflammation and reversible, sets in.
If the gingivitis is ignored, plaque grows under one’s gumline and hardens and becomes tartar. Once that happens, only a dentist can remove it – it can’t be brushed off.
If still left unchecked by a dental professional, pockets of this plaque and tartar, along with bacteria, form and cause periodontitis. If one wants to have a chance to keep their teeth, seek dental help.
Treatment and Prevention
This is not a scenario for self-diagnosis. A dentist will have to determine that it is periodontal disease since other conditions or illnesses, like cancer, can have some of the same symptoms.
One plan of action may be scaling and root planing. This is when a dentist does a deeper cleaning than one gets when they go in for a regular exam. He or she will go under the gumline and look for pockets of plaque and remove them. They also debride the area to remove rough spots on the roots.
Antibiotics may be necessary. How they are distributed depends on the severity of the gum disease. One may rinse with a special mouthwash or swallow a pill. Other ways include applying gels, and inserting a small chip that releases antibiotics over a period of time. Tiny microspheres can also be a time-release mechanism.
If it turns out that either the gum disease has progressed too far or that the antibiotics are not working, surgery may likely be the next step. There are two main types.
- Flap surgery – This is the next step should the scaling and root planing did not work. A periodontist is the one who performs it and they clean out the tartar and stitch the gums to the teeth so as to close any pockets and make it easier to brush and floss.
- Grafts – Should bone and tissue be destroyed, then this is an option. The periodontist places mesh between jaw and teeth which aids the regeneration efforts.
There is no super-secret routine to prevent this. It’s pretty much out in the open – just brush and floss daily. Brush twice a day, preferably with an electric toothbrush, for two minutes each time. Floss carefully and don’t tug too hard or in a jagged motion. A mouthwash can help too. That’s it. Six minutes a day.
Not smoking and watching one’s weight can play a huge part in prevention. Leading a healthy lifestyle can lead to stronger teeth.
The staff at Ivory Dental Jacksonville can diagnose and treat periodontitis. Just contact them at 904-998-1555.