Diseases and Treatment

The Contributing Factors of Periodontal Disease  

Bleeding and swollen gums are often early signs of your gums being infected with bacteria. The prefix “peri” means around while “odontal” means teeth.  Therefore, periodontal disease refers to infections of structures surrounding the teeth.  Those include the periodontal ligament, alveolar bone and the cementum covering the root and the gums.  During the earliest periodontal disease stage, which is gingivitis, only the gums are affected by the infection.  If nothing gets done about it, this results in more serious forms of this disease, and all supporting structures are destroyed which can result in your teeth becoming very loose to the point that they must be extracted.     

What Are The Causes Of Periodontal Disease? 

 Bacteria inside of dental plaque is what causes periodontal disease.  Plague is that sticky substance that starts forming on your teeth right after you brush.  Your immune system’s cells, in trying to eliminate the bacteria, release substances that damage and inflame the alveolar bone, periodontal ligament or gums.  That results in bleeding and swollen gums, which is a sign of having gingivitis (which is periodontal disease’s earliest stage).  Periodontal disease damage may cause some teeth to become loose also. That is a sign of serious periodontitis (which is an advanced stage of this disease).

Periodontal disease can be prevented through visiting your dentist on a regular basis along with practicing good oral hygiene.  A majority of individuals should visit their dentist every six months.  However, you might need more frequent visits if you have gum disease already.

When brushing and flossing are done properly on a daily basis, it can help remove a majority of the plaque on your teeth.  Having professional cleanings done by your dental hygienist or dentist will help to keep the plague controlled in areas that are more difficult to reach with floss or a toothbrush.

If you miss your dental visits or your oral hygiene starts to slip, then plague will start building up on your teeth.  It will spread under the gum line eventually. Bacteria is protected in those areas since your toothbrush is unable to reach them.  If this plaque isn’t removed, then the bacteria is going to keep multiplying.  Your gum inflammation might worsen.

When plaque builds up below the gumline it results in the gums becoming inflamed.  When gums start swelling, they start detaching from the teeth.  A pocket or space is formed in the process, between the gum and tooth.  Bacteria are able to rapidly grow in these pockets, and further plaque buildup is encouraged.

When periodontal disease is left untreated it might destroy the alveolar bone and periodontal ligament which are the support structures for the teeth.

Another reason why plaque should be removed quickly is that over time it will become calcified or hardened and turn calculus.  It is commonly referred to as tartar.  This results in an even greater amount of plaque attaching to calculus due to it being a rougher surface compared to tooth enamel.  In addition, it is rough than cementum, which is the layer covering the root of the tooth.  Plaque and calculus build-up in multiple layers.    

When a tartar-control toothpaste is used it might help with slowing down calculus build-up surrounding the teeth.  However, it won’t affect the tartar that has formed already under the gum line.   

Prevention and Risks

Bacteria in plaque is the major thing that causes periodontal disease.  Routine visits with a Family Dentistry of Lake Worth dentist will help you prevent the build up of this plaque. However, there are several other factors that might also contribute.  These include oral habits, medicines, and other diseases.  The following factors may increase your risk of developing gum disease or might make it worse after infection sets in:

Genes – There are some individuals who are more likely compared to other people to develop periodontal disease due to their genes.  However, genes still don’t make it inevitable that you will get gum disease.  Even individuals who are highly prone to getting the disease still can control or prevent it by practicing good oral care.

Tobacco use and Smoking: Smoking increases your risk of getting periodontal disease.  The more and longer you smoke, the higher your risk is.  Smoking can also make the periodontal disease more severe if you already have it.  Smoke is one of the main reasons why some periodontal disease cases are resistant to being treated.  More tartar tends to collect on the teeth of smokers.  The periodontal pockets that they develop after getting gum disease tend to be deeper.  Also, as the disease worsens, they more likely to lose additional bone.  Unlike many of the other factors affecting gum health, deciding whether or not to smoke is something you control.  Quitting smoking potentially can play a significant role in getting periodontal disease controlled.

Bridgework, braces, crowded teeth, or misaligned teeth – anything making it harder to brush and floss your teeth will most likely enhance the formation of plaque and tartar.  The more tartar and plaque that you have, the higher your chances are to develop gum disease. Periodontists and dentists will be able to teach you the best ways to keep your teeth clean, even when it is difficult to clean them.  For example, there are special ways and tools that can be used to thread floss in order to slide under braces or clean around bridgework.  If crooked or overcrowded teeth are an issue, then orthodontics might be recommended by your dentist.  That could help straighten your smile out and increase the chances of the disease being prevented.    

Clenching, gritting, or grinding teeth – Those habits don’t cause periodontal disease.  They can, however, lead to more serious disease if you already have inflamed gums.  Excess force is exerted on the teeth by those habits. The pressure can speed up the process of the periodontal bone and ligament being broken down. In numerous situations, individuals can stop this habit through just recognizing it when it occurs and then relaxing. If those efforts don’t work, then your periodontist or dentist can have a custom guard appliance created that you can wear to help reduce pressure from grinding or clenching your teeth.  Sometimes the device is referred to as a bite guard, mouth guard, night guard, or occlusal guard.   

Stress – Stress may make it harder to treat periodontal disease or make it worse. Stress weakens the immune system of your body. That makes it more difficult for your body to be able to fight infection off, which include periodontal disease.   

Hormones that fluctuate – Whenever you have hormone levels going up and down in your body, changes may occur inside of your mouth as well. Pregnancy and puberty may increase the severity and risk of gum disease temporarily.  Menopause can as well.

Medicines – There are several kinds of medicines that may cause xerostomia or dry mouth.  They include certain high blood pressure or depression drugs.  When you don’t have a sufficient amount of saliva, it is more likely that plaque will form.  That can result in cavities (tooth decay).  Other medicines might cause enlargement of gums.  That makes it more likely that they will trap plaque.  The medicines include the following:   

– Phenytoin (Dilantin and as well as other name brands names), used for controlling seizures

– Cyclosporine (Sandimmune, Neoral), used for suppressing the immune system individuals with organ transplants

– Nifedipine (Cardizem, Adalat, and others) along with other types of calcium channel blockers that are used for treating heart arrhythmias, chest pain )angina) and high blood pressure.

Diseases – Individuals who have certain disease also have a higher risk of getting periodontal disease. For instance, it is more likely that individuals with diabetes will get periodontitis compared to individuals who do not have diabetes.  There is also a higher likelihood that they will have more severe gum disease.  Other diseases that might increase the risk of periodontal disease include inflammatory conditions like HIV infection and rheumatoid arthritis.  If you have one of those diseases it can be harder to control periodontal disease.  However, a good dentist or periodontist who is aware of those problems can give you advice on how your periodontal health can be maintained.

Poor nutrition – For your overall health, nutrition is very important.  This includes having a healthy mouth and gums and well functioning immune system.  Bleeding gums can be caused by a serious vitamin C deficiency (scurvy).

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