Periodontal, or gum, disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in American adults. The disease begins with a bacterial infection that is caused by the buildup of plaque between the teeth and gums.
This early stage of periodontal disease, known as gingivitis, can be reversed before causing serious damage; however, if left untreated, it can advance to periodontitis, which can cause bone loss and tissue damage, as well as other problematic health conditions. Studies have shown that gum disease has direct adverse effect on other organs and harmful.
Plaque is a sticky bacteria that forms on teeth when food particles containing sugars and starches are left on the teeth. If not properly treated, this plaque can harden into tartar. Bacteria lives in it which emits toxins that can destroy tooth enamel, cause tooth decay and break down bone and connective tissue that supports the teeth. When this occurs, the pockets beneath the gum line begin to enlarge, separating the teeth from the gums and bone and giving bacteria the perfect place to harbor. Once this separation begins, teeth become unstable, loose and eventually fall out.
Plaque buildup is the main cause of periodontal disease, but other factors may play a role in its onset, including hormonal changes, autoimmune disorders, certain medications and poor oral hygiene.
Prevention & Treatment Options
Periodontal disease is best prevented through proper oral hygiene and professional dental care, including regular visits to your dentist for cleanings and dental exams ( at a minimum every six months). In its early stages, periodontal disease can be reversed with a single visit to your dentist and the right at-home care. Non-surgical treatments may include professional dental cleaning, where tartar buildup is thoroughly removed and cleaned. Scaling and root planing may also be needed. This is a process by which plaque and tartar above and below the gum line are scraped away and any rough surfaces smoothed out.
In later stages, more extensive treatment measures will be needed. Surgical treatments for periodontal disease include pocket reduction surgery and bone or soft tissue grafting. Pocket reduction surgery is a process by which tarter is removed from deep beneath the gums and the gums are placed tightly around the tooth to ensure bacteria is not given a place to live and fester. Tissue grafting involves the regeneration of bone or gum tissue after the bacteria is removed to restore stability to the teeth and reverse the appearance of gum recession.
Certain antibiotics and instructions for proper at-home care may also be prescribed in conjunction with your treatment plan to help prevent the return or onset of periodontal disease down the road.
If you are experiencing any inflammation or bleeding of the gums, it is important to visit your dentist for a checkup and dental cleaning before the disease progresses. Prevention is the key to a healthy smile and can save you time, effort and money down the road.
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