You do not want to have problems with your gums. Unfortunately, you may already have it and not even know it. You may have beautiful teeth, but still be at risk of losing them to periodontitis. In its early stages, problems with your gums may show no noticeable symptoms at all. Before you know it you may find that a tooth is loose, or your gums begin to bleed. Left untreated, you risk complete tooth loss and perhaps worse.
GINGIVITIS OR PERIODONTAL DISEASE?
Everyone’s mouth contains bacteria. Our mouths also contain other substances, such as mucus. When the bacteria combines with mucus and other particles in the mouth, plaque forms on our teeth. Through good oral hygiene—brushing, flossing, and regular cleaning, the plaque is kept under control. When plaque is not removed it can form tartar. The tarter becomes a storehouse for bacteria. As the bacteria grows, our body attempts to fight it, and infection occurs. In very early stages the condition is called gingivitis. Gingivitis can easily be treated by your dentist.
Early Stage (Gingivitis)
- Gum swelling or tenderness
- Gum inflammation
- Bleeding when brushing or flossing
Later Stage (Periodontitis)
- Persistent bad breath
- Tender and bleeding gums
- Pain when chewing
- Loosening teeth
- Tooth sensitivity
- Gums pulling away from teeth
- Receding gums
- Pus coming from gums
- Change in bite
Once this disease advances past the gingivitis stage it becomes periodontitis. During periodontitis, the gums begin to pull away from the teeth, and pockets are created. If left untreated, the infection will eventually spread below the gum line, the bone and the tissue that connects the gum to the bone will become affected, and teeth will become loose and ultimately have to be extracted.
PERIODONTAL DISEASE AND YOUR HEART
The latest research indicates a strong link between periodontal disease and coronary artery disease. While there are multiple theories on how diseased gums affect the heart, the connection appears to be strong. Research published by the American Academy of Periodontology estimates that patients with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease as those without periodontal disease. As if that weren’t enough, strokes have also been connected to periodontitis.
Your best course of action is prevention through good oral hygiene and regular professional cleanings. If this is not enough, or you are concerned that you may have periodontal disease, you should get treatment as soon as possible.
The first course of treatment is generally a technique called scaling and root planing. This is a deep cleaning of the teeth that gets between the gums and the teeth all the way down to the roots. Ultrasonic technology may used as an alternative to manual scraping. After the cleaning, an antibiotic may be placed between the gums and the teeth. Depending on your particular situation, follow-up treatments may be required.
If the disease has progressed past the point where scaling and root planing are sufficient, surgical procedures may be recommended. These may include surgery to reduce the pockets between your tooth and gum or bone and tissue grafts.
ARE YOU AT RISK?
If you are a smoker then, yes, you are at risk. Smoking is one of the key risk factors associated with developing periodontal disease. Other factors that may mean that you should pay particular attention to your gums are diabetes, genetic factors, hormonal changes in females, certain illnesses or medications, and stress. You do not have to lose your teeth or your health due to periodontitis. This is a preventable, treatable disease, if it is caught in time. We recognize that each situation is unique and can work with you to develop a prevention and treatment plan designed for your special needs.
Contact Dr. Bender’s office to arrange for a consultation so that you can learn what you can do to avoid falling victim to gum disease in Edmond, OK.