Periodontal (gum) disease is a serious infection that targets the gum tissues and bone around your teeth, and if left untreated can result in the loss of your teeth and other serious problems. It is a common disease that affects many adults and is caused largely by poor oral hygiene. Good oral hygiene includes brushing at least twice a day, daily flossing, and seeing your dentist for regular dental checkups.
The disease progresses in stages beginning with the mildest form called gingivitis. If caught and treated early, your chances for successful treatment are excellent. However, it remains up to you to be ever vigilant because it can reoccur easily. Bacterial plaque, which is a sticky and colorless film that develops over the surface of the teeth, is the most common cause of periodontal disease. If the plaque is not removed, it can harden to form tartar or calculus.
- Blood on your toothbrush
- Gums that are red, swollen, or tender
- Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
- Teeth that have changed the way they fit together when you bite or new spaces between your teeth
- Gums that have pulled away from your teeth making your teeth look longer than normal
- Changes in the way your partial dentures fit
- Permanent teeth that are loose
- Painful chewing
Sometimes, you may not notice any symptoms although you may still have some form of the disease. Therefore it is important to have regular dental checkups with Dr. Grant Moldenhauer & Associates because only a dentist can recognize the progression of periodontal disease.
If the mild form of periodontal disease (gingivitis) is left untreated, it can advance to periodontitis. Although plaque is the primary cause for gum disease, there are other factors, which can contribute to the disease and include:
- Illnesses such as cancer where your immune system is compromised, but also systemic illnesses like diabetes can be linked to periodontal disease
- Medications which cause dry-mouth and decreases saliva which has a protective effect on the teeth and gums
- Smoking makes it more difficult for the gum tissue to repair itself
- A family history of dental disease
Treatments for gum disease can vary depending on the stage of the disease, which is why it is important to catch it in its earliest stages when the therapy is the easiest and the least invasive. Treating gingivitis sometimes is as simple as a professional dental cleaning and a regular regime of good oral care at home. As the disease progresses, treatments that are more aggressive are used including:
- Scaling and root planing - a deep-cleaning, nonsurgical procedure
- Flap surgery/pocket reduction surgery - gums are lifted back, and the tartar is removed
- Bone grafts - replacing bone that has been destroyed by gum disease
- Soft tissue grafts - reinforces thin gums
- Guided tissue regeneration - stimulated bone and gum tissue growth
Periodontitis can cause tooth loss, and advanced research indicates that there is a direct link between the bacteria that cause gum disease and systemic illness, which can affect your heart, lungs, and other parts of your body.
The best way to prevent periodontal disease is with a good oral hygiene program and regular dental visits. Call us today at our office in Canmore where our caring staff at Dr. Grant Moldenhauer & Associates are ready to help you fight gum disease!