Studies have shown that periodontaldisease, also known as gum disease, is linked to heart attacks and strokes. Gum disease is an infection in the gums surrounding the teeth. Gum disease is also one of the main causes of tooth loss among adults. There are two major stages of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontitis. Regular dental check ups along with brushing at least twice a day and flossing daily play an important role in preventing gum disease.
Gingivitis: This mildest form causes gums to become red, swollen and bleed easily. There is usually little or no discomfort at this stage. Gingivitis is reversible with professional treatment and good home oral care, as at this stage there is no bone loss.
Mild Periodontitis: If gingivitis is left untreated, it can advance to periodontitis. In the mild stage, it begins to destroy the bone and tissues that support the teeth.
Moderate - Advanced Periodontitis: In the mid-stages, it can lead to more bone and tissue destruction. The most advanced form of this disease includes extensive bone and tissue loss. Teeth often become loose and may have to be removed.
Everyone has bacteria in their mouths. If proper oral care is not done at home through regular brushing and flossing, it grows into colonies and creates a layer on your teeth and gums called biofilm. This biofilm, if untreated can multiply, as it thrives in the dark area between the gums and teeth.
A build up of biofilm begins to irritate the tissues of the gums and eventually leads to gingivitis. At this point, bleeding begins. If professional care is taken and good oral health habits are taken at home, the disease can be stopped at this stage without any residual effects.
If gingivitis is not treated, the bacterial biofilm causes the gums to pull away from the teeth, creating more room for the bacteria to grow. This is when periodontitis sets in and bone loss begins to occur. Bone loss cannot be regrown, but at this stage the process can be halted with proper treatment from your dentist. If it continues to be left untreated however, it can lead to the loss of teeth if enough bone is destroyed.
Treatment for Periodontal Disease:
Early treatment of gum disease is very important. The goals of treatment are to prevent gum disease from permanently damaging tissues, control infection, and prevent tooth loss. For treatment to be effective, you will need to:
- Keep your teeth clean by brushing two times a day and flossing one time a day.
- See your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings.
- Avoid all tobacco use. Tobacco decreases your ability to fight infection, interferes with healing, and makes you more likely to have serious gum disease that results in tooth loss.
Treatment for mild gum disease
If you have a milder type of gum disease (gingivitis ), you may be able to reverse the damage to your gums:
- Brush your teeth two times a day, in the morning and before bedtime.
- Floss your teeth one time a day.
- Use an antiseptic mouthwash, such as Listerine, or an antiplaque mouthwash.
For more information on how to care for your teeth, see:
Dental Care: Brushing and Flossing Your Teeth.
Your dentist will want to see you for regular checkups and cleanings. Professional cleaning can remove plaque and tartar that brushing and flossing missed. After you have had gum disease, you may need to see your dentist every 3 or 4 months for follow-up.
Your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to help fight the infection. They can be put directly on the gums, swallowed as pills or capsules, or swished around your teeth as mouthwash. Your dentist may also recommend an antibacterial toothpaste that reduces plaque and gingivitis when used regularly.
Gum Disease Treatment Natural Way:
Preventive Measures for Gum Disease:
The bacteria in plaque are the main cause of periodontal disease. But several other factors also can contribute. They include other diseases, medicines and oral habits. These factors can increase your risk of gum disease or make it worse once the infection has set in.
Genes — Some people are more likely than others to get periodontal disease because of their genes. But your genes do not make gum disease inevitable. Even people who are highly prone to periodontal disease can prevent or control the disease with good oral care.
Smoking and tobacco use — Smoking increases the risk of periodontal disease. The longer you smoke, and the more you smoke, the higher the risk. If you have periodontal disease, smoking makes it more severe. Smoking is a major reason that some cases of periodontal disease are resistant to treatment. Smokers tend to collect more tartar on their teeth. They often develop deeper periodontal pockets once they have gum disease. They also are likely to lose more bone as the disease gets worse. Unlike many other factors that affect the health of your gums, the decision to smoke or not is under your control. Quitting smoking can play a major role in bringing periodontal disease under control.
Misaligned or crowded teeth, braces or bridgework — Anything that makes it more difficult to brush or floss your teeth is likely to enhance plaque and tartar formation. The more plaque and tartar you have, the greater your chance of developing gum disease. Dentists and periodontists can show you the best ways to clean your teeth, even if they are hard to clean. For example, you can use special tools and ways of threading floss to clean around bridgework or slide under braces. If overcrowded or crooked teeth are a problem, your dentist might recommend orthodontics. This could straighten out your smile and give you a better chance of preventing disease.
Grinding, gritting or clenching of teeth — These habits won't cause periodontal disease. However, they can lead to more severe disease if your gums are already inflamed. These habits exert excess force on the teeth. This pressure appears to speed up the breakdown of the periodontal ligament and bone. In many cases, people can learn to stop this habit simply by recognizing when it is happening and then relaxing. If these efforts don't work, your dentist or periodontist can create a custom guard appliance to help reduce the pressure of clenching or grinding on the teeth. This device is sometimes called an occlusal guard, night guard, mouth guard or bite guard.
Stress — Stress can make periodontal disease worse and harder to treat. Stress weakens your body's immune system. This makes it harder for your body to fight off infection, including periodontal disease.
Fluctuating hormones — Whenever hormone levels go up and down in the body, changes can occur in the mouth. Puberty and pregnancy can temporarily increase the risk and severity of gum disease. So can menopause.
Medicines — SSeveral types of medicines can cause dry mouth, or xerostomia. Examples include certain drugs for depression and high blood pressure. If you don't have enough saliva, plaque is more likely to form. This may lead to tooth decay (cavities). Other medicines may cause the gums to enlarge. This makes them more likely to trap plaque. These medicines include:
Phenytoin (Dilantin and other brand names), used to control seizures
Cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune), used to suppress the immune system in people who have had organ transplants
Nifedipine (Adalat, Cardizem and others) and other calcium channel blockers, used to treat high blood pressure, chest pain (angina) or heart arrhythmias.
Diseases — People with certain diseases have a higher risk of developing periodontal disease. For example, people with diabetes are more likely to get periodontitis than people without diabetes. Their gum disease is also likely to be more severe. Other diseases that increase periodontal disease risk include inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and HIV infection. Having one of these diseases can make the control of your periodontal disease more difficult. But a good periodontist or dentist who is aware of these problems can give you guidance on how to maintain your periodontal health.
Poor nutrition — Nutrition is important for overall good health, including a working immune system and healthy gums and mouth. Severe vitamin C deficiency (scurvy) can cause bleeding gums.