WHAT IS PERIODONTAL DISEASE?
Periodontitis is the reaction of tooth supporting structures to chronic inflammation of the gums (gingivitis). Without proper dental care, plaque can spread and grow below the gum line. Toxins produced by the bacteria in plaque irritate the gums. The toxins stimulate a chronic inflammatory response in which the body in essence turns on itself, and the tissues and bone that support the teeth are broken down and destroyed. Gums separate from the teeth, forming pockets (spaces between the teeth and gums) that become infected. As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed. Often, this destructive process has very mild symptoms. Eventually, teeth can become loose and may have to be removed.
WHAT IF MY PERIODONTAL DISEASE GOES UNTREATED?
Bleeding gums are common, but not normal. They are the classic sign of gingivitis. when untreated, it will evolve into periodontal disease. Lack of treatment will inevitably result in gum recession and bone loss, and ultimately, tooth loss.
WHAT IS THE LINK BETWEEN PERIODONTAL DISEASE AND HEART DISEASE?
Several research studies have indicated that heart disease and gum disease may be linked, and researchers suspect that inflammation may be the basis behind this relationship. A combination of bleeding gums and the presence of certain bacteria during periodontal disease mean there is an open door for bacteria to enter the blood stream and end up in your heart. The body’s reaction to this may lead to heart disease.
HOW TO TREAT PERIODONTAL DISEASE?
Treating periodontal disease requires a combination of therapies that may range from non-surgical periodontal cleanings to more involved procedures such as laser therapy or surgery, depending on the case. A thorough examination by a periodontist is necessary to determine what is the best option for each case, as conditions may vary from person to person.
HOW OFTEN DO I NEED A CLEANING?
Since periodontal disease has several stages, treatment can vary from non-surgical procedures such as periodontal scaling and root planning, to gum surgery to remove plaque and bacteria below the gum line, where brushing, flossing or regular cleanings cannot reach. A comprehensive periodontal evaluation is the best way to determine what path to follow.
WHY A PERIODONTIST?
Additionally to 4 years of dental school training, periodontist receive another 3 years of education focusing on gums and tooth supporting structures. The have an in-depth knowledge of gums, bone, periodontal ligament and bacteria associated with periodontal disease at any stage. With the complexity of the tooth supporting structures, it is important to choose a professional that has extensive knowledge on the matter; wether it is to treat periodontal disease, to place implants, or to prepare said structures to place them, a specialist is your best bet.
I HAVE MISSING TEETH. WHAT CAN I DO?
In the past, the only options to treat tooth loss were fixed bridges, which require the preparation of (sometimes healthy) teeth adjacent to the missing tooth; or partial or complete removable dentures.
Implants (where indicated) are a better alternative to these options since, no healthy tooth structure from adjacent teeth needs to be sacrificed to replace a tooth (as with a fixed bridge), and no uncomfortable removable appliances are necessary in the case of complete tooth loss when you can have something that is fixed, and also preserves bone structure and gums.
I HAVE A GUMMY SMILE. WHAT CAN I DO?
Gummy smiles can dramatically affect someone’s confidence. A simple surgical procedure, known as gum surgery or gum lift can improve the appearance of a smile, and boost a person’s confidence in a matter of minutes. Quite often, this procedure is painless, with patients reporting post-op discomfort similar to eating something very hot.
WHY DO I HAVE BAD BREATH?
Bad breath can be uncomfortable for a patient, and their loved ones. Although there are many causes, a very common one is gum disease, wether it is gingivitis or periodontal disease at any stage. Bacteria accumulation, and the byproducts of their proliferation is a common cause for bad breath. This can be address with proper periodontal disease.
WHY DO MY GUMS BLEED WHEN I BRUSH?
Bleeding gums are common, but not normal. In the oral cavity, bleeding is a sign of inflammation, due to food debris and bacteria accumulating around the gums. Although brushing often and flossing every day can help strengthen the gums, periodic visits to the dentist, and periodontal therapy will help decrease gum bleeding.
I DON’T WANT TO WEAR A DENTURE. WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS?
If you are experiencing tooth loss, wether partial or total, implants and teeth-in-a-day procedures are great alternatives. With the latest advances in dental technology, you can say NO to dentures! Contact your periodontist to find out more about these procedures.