Periodontal (gum) disease, which is also known as periodontitis, is a progressive disease which if left untreated may result in tooth loss. Gum disease begins with the inflammation and irritation of the gingival tissues which surround and support the teeth. The cause of this inflammation is the toxins found in plaque which cause an ongoing bacterial infection.
The bacterial infection colonizes in the gingival tissue and deep pockets form between the teeth and the gums. If treated promptly by one of the hygienists from Presser Dental Group, the effects of mild inflammation (known as gingivitis) are completely reversible.
However, if the bacterial infection is allowed to progress, periodontal disease begins to destroy the gums and the underlying jawbone, which promote tooth loss. In some cases, the bacteria from this infection can travel to other areas of the body via the bloodstream.
There are genetic and environmental factors involved in the onset of gum disease. In many cases, the risk of developing periodontitis can be significantly lowered by taking preventative measures.
Preventing dental disease starts at home with good oral hygiene and a balanced diet. Prevention also includes regular dental visits, such as exams, cleanings, and x-rays.
A combination of excellent home care and professional dental care will ensure and preserve the natural dentition and supporting bony structures. When bacteria and calculus (tartar) are not removed, the gums and bone around the teeth become infected by bacteria toxins and can cause gingivitis or periodontitis, which can lead to tooth loss.
Research has indicated that smoking or tobacco use is one of the most significant factors in the development and progression of gum disease. In addition to smokers experiencing a slower recovery and healing rate, they are far more likely to suffer from calculus (tartar) build up on teeth, deep pockets in the gingival tissue, and significant bone loss.
Despite practicing rigorous oral hygiene routines, as much as 30% of the population may have a strong genetic predisposition to gum disease. These individuals are six times more likely to develop periodontal disease than individuals with no genetic predisposition. Genetic tests can be used to determine susceptibility and early intervention can be performed to keep the oral cavity healthy.
During pregnancy, regular brushing and flossing is critical. Hormonal changes experienced by the body can cause the gum tissue to become more sensitive, rendering them more susceptible to gum disease.
Stress lowers the ability of the immune system to fight off disease, which means bacterial infections may possibly beat the body’s defense system. Poor diet or malnutrition can also lower the body’s ability to fight periodontal infections, as well as negatively affecting the health of the gums.
Many medical conditions can intensify or accelerate the onset and progression of gum disease including respiratory disease, heart disease, arthritis and osteoporosis. Diabetes hinders the body’s ability to utilize insulin which makes the bacterial infection in the gums more difficult to control and cure.
The clenching or grinding of the teeth can significantly damage the supporting tissue surrounding the teeth. Grinding one’s teeth is usually associated with a “bad bite” or the misalignment of the teeth. When an individual is suffering from gum disease, the additional destruction of gingival tissue due to grinding can accelerate the progression of the disease.
Many drugs including oral contraceptive pills, heart medicines, anti-depressants and steroids affect the overall condition of teeth and gums, making them more susceptible to gum disease. Steroid use promotes gingival overgrowth, which makes swelling more commonplace and allows bacteria to colonize more readily in the gum tissue.
Our hygienists can perform effective cleaning procedures in deep pockets such as scaling and root planing. Dr. Presser can prescribe antibiotic and antifungal medications to treat infection and halt the progression of the disease.
In the case of tooth loss, dental implants may be ideal for replacement. Where gum recession causes a “toothy” looking smile, Dr. Presser can recontour the gingival tissue to create an even and aesthetically pleasing appearance.
Preventing periodontal disease is critical in preserving the natural dentition. Addressing the causes of gum disease and discussing them with Dr. Presser or any of our hygienists will help prevent the onset, progression, and recurrence of periodontal disease.
If you have any questions or concerns about the causes or treatments pertaining to gum disease, please ask us. Contact us today to learn more about our services in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and nearby areas.