If you have been told you have periodontal (gum) disease, you’re not alone. Many adults in the U.S. currently have some form of the disease. Periodontal diseases range from simple gum inflammation to serious disease that results in major damage to the soft tissue and bone that support the teeth. In the worst cases, teeth are lost.
What are The Cause of Gum Diseases?
Gum disease is caused by the growth of bacteria on the teeth and gums. Bacteria are present in plaque, a clear, sticky substance your mouth produces. If plaque is not removed promptly, it builds up on the teeth.
- The bacteria in plaque feed on sugars in the foods you eat and drink and produce poisons (toxins) and other chemicals.
- The toxins irritate your gums, causing them to swell and bleed easily when brushed.
- Plaque can harden into a mineral buildup called calculus or tartar, which further irritates the gums and causes them to pull away from your teeth.
While bacteria are the direct cause of gum disease, a number of other things also affect the health of your gums.
- Hormonal changes, such as those occurring during pregnancy, puberty, menopause, and monthly menstruation, make gums more sensitive, which makes it easier for gingivitis to develop.
- Illnesses may affect the condition of your gums. This includes diseases such ascancer or HIV that interfere with the immune system. Because diabetes affects the body’s ability to use blood sugar, patients with this disease are at higher risk of developing infections, including periodontal disease and cavities.
- Medications can affect oral health, because some lessen the flow of saliva, which has a protective effect on teeth and gums. Some drugs, such as the anticonvulsant medication Dilantin and the anti-angina drug Procardia andAdalat, can cause abnormal growth of gum tissue.
- Bad habits such as smoking make it harder for gum tissue to repair itself.
- Poor oral hygiene habits such as not brushing and flossing on a daily basis, make it easier for gingivitis to develop.
- Family history of dental disease can be a contributing factor for the development of gingivitis.
How Does Your Dentist Diagnoses Gum Disease?
Your dentist can look at Bone loss. This can be determined not only visually, but also via the x-rays, and periodontal probings. If you’ve ever heard your dentist or dental hygienist calling out numbers and noting them in your dental chart at your regular checkup, then you’ve experienced “pocket probing” or “charting.” As part of a routine checkup, the dentist completes a periodontal examination to measure the depth of the spaces (“pockets”) between your teeth and gums, and checks for bleeding.
Your dentist or hygienist uses a small measuring stick called a periodontal probe and measures the architecture of the bone structure around each and every tooth you possess. Each tooth has 6 surfaces- 3 in the front and 3 in the back. Normal probing depths are sort of like golf scores- the lower the number the better the prognosis of a tooth. Generally 1-3 millimeters is normal. It means you are flossing and doing what you’re supposed to be doing. It could also mean you aren’t flossing and you just have awesome genetics.
Detection of bleeding and pockets of four or more millimeters in depth are one way for your dentist to identify gingivitis and periodontitis.
The goals of gum disease treatment are to promote reattachment of healthy gums to teeth; reduce swelling, the depth of pockets, and the risk of infection; and to stop disease progression. Treatment options depend on the stage of disease, how you may have responded to earlier treatments, and your overall health. Options range from nonsurgical therapies that control bacterial growth to surgery to restore supportive tissues. A full description of the various treatment options is provided in Gum Disease Treatments.
In dentistry experience and Continuing Education are everything. Dr. Parvin Carter has over 30 years of experience in Practicing General Dentistry and 25 years in Orthodontics. She has thousands of hours of advanced training. In 2000, Academy of General Dentistry awarded Dr. Carter a Certificate of Mastership (MAGD) in General Dentistry. According to the Journal of the Academy of General Dentistry, only 1% of US dentists achieve this high level of advancement. Dr. Carter is a Certified and Preferred Provider of Invisalign. She has successfully treated over 360 patients with Invisalign.
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