What is periodontal disease?
Of the hundreds of different types of bacteria in the mouth, anaerobic bacteria causes periodontal disease, most commonly called gum disease, or once known as pyorrhea. Mouth bacteria forms a bio-film around the teeth and can cause infected gums. When your gums, bone, and ligaments (the supportive structures around your teeth), are compromised, you have periodontal disease, which eventually could cause tooth loss. Besides the other general health issues gum disease can cause, life is usually better with your own teeth! Your entire mouth may not always be diseased, as sometimes, localized periodontal disease can be limited to a few teeth. There are several reasons for the accumulation of anaerobic bacteria which may include, genetics, smoking, poor or neglected oral hygiene, and autoimmune disorders. This is a progressive disease which first begins as gingivitis with many warning signs, and it is extremely important to have annual dental hygiene exams to evaluate your gum health. Our Mexico clinics have a periodontist on staff and treatments are much more affordable than treating periodontal disease in the U.S.
A Periodontal dental evaluation
Four out of five adults is said to have a stage of gum disease. Periodontal disease can be very covert, with symptoms not always obvious to the average person. Gum pockets can form easily in the molar areas, yet, these teeth are more hidden, and are dependent on a dental professional to examine them. It is extremely important to have a current set of full mouth X-rays to determine if there is bone loss. X-rays are a necessary tool to combine with a clinical exam of your teeth and gums to make an assessment of your overall gum health. A periodontal probe will be used to measure the spaces in your gums. There are six measurements taken per tooth, where a healthy sulcus (space) measurement is between 1-3 mm’s, and anything over 4 mm’s are charted as inflammation or pockets. Many people don’t realize your gums are not fixed to the teeth where the gumline and teeth meet. The sulcus is the open space between the gumline/tooth junction and where the gum attaches to the tooth, 1-3 mm’s below. The anaerobic bacteria, or plaque, loves to harbor in this space, and your dental hygienist or our dentists in Mexico, will take into account how much plaque is found under the gum, as this is what eventually causes the deepening of the sulcus which form periodontal pockets.
Symptoms of gum disease you may notice on your own
- Persistent bleeding or red gums
- Aching or swollen gums
- Periodontal abscesses on the outside of the gums
- Bad breath or taste in your mouth
- Visible tartar
- Loosening teeth
Possible links to general health and periodontal disease
- Heart disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Overall body inflammation
- Premature birth or low birth weight
Treating Periodontal Disease
Periodontitis will not get better on its own. The combination of new and committed oral home care with the care of dental professionals can reverse most gum disease, depending on how advanced it is. Sometimes a combination of treatments are required per the severity of each tooth involved. Rinses and medications alone cannot successfully treat gum disease. The two types of treatments are:
When the majority of pockets do not exceed 6mm’s in depth with minimal tooth mobility, scaling and root planing (deep cleanings) can be the first step in treating gum disease. A patient usually requires mild numbing. Scaling removes the plaque and tartar below the gumline, and root planing scrapes and smooths the root surfaces so the tissue can reattach to the clean surface. Sometimes a localized antibiotic can be inserted into the pocket for further healing. This is a non-invasive approach, with very little discomfort after the procedure. Warm salt water rinses and over the counter pain medication can help any soreness.
For more advanced gum disease a periodontist will need to perform flap surgery. This always requires the patient to be numb. The gum is cut into a flap to peel it away from the teeth. Scaling removes the tartar, the roots are scraped, and where necessary, the bone can be smoothed and contoured. Bone grafting can also be done at this point where there is severe bone loss. The flap is re-positioned and the gums are sutured with dis-solvable stitches. Strict instructions must be adhered to after surgery to encourage proper healing. Antibiotics are commonly prescribed, along with an antimicrobial rinse. There must be follow-up appointments to check the healing.
Plaque is constantly forming on the teeth, and if you are prone to aggressive gum bacteria, disease can always recur. There have been studies to show that anaerobic bacteria can become active in the gums after three months. Therefore, once you have been treated for periodontitis it is crucial that a three month prophy recall is maintained with a dental professional. What you do at home determines the success in preventing further gum disease. It is extremely important to adapt to any home care advice given to you at these cleanings, which could include; flossing, water piks, batter or ultrasonic toothbrushes, or dental toothpicks. Obtaining mouth health can easily become a part of one’s whole health routine. Periodontists are always available at our Mexico dental offices to evaluate and maintain your periodontal disease at much more affordable prices than a specialist in the U.S.