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Periodontal Disease: Causes and Prevention


Registered on 2018. 10. 01


What Is It?

Periodontitis is a term used to describe a group of conditions that involves inflammation of the gums and other structures that support the teeth. Periodontitis is caused by bacteria found in dental plaque and often, but not always, starts as gingivitis.

In trying to eliminate the bacterial infection, your body produces substances that destroy the structures that hold the teeth in the jaw, including the periodontal ligament and underlying bone. As this process continues, the teeth become loose. Pockets form between the teeth and gums, allowing more bacteria to accumulate. Left untreated, periodontitis can result in tooth loss.

Periodontitis usually is relatively painless. The onset of significant pain may signal the development of an abscess.

Older adults are more likely to have periodontitis.

People who smoke are four to seven times more likely than nonsmokers to get periodontitis. Smoking may impair the body's defense against bacteria.


Symptoms

Symptoms include:

  • Reddened, swollen or bleeding gums
  • Receding gums
  • Loose Teeth
  • Bad breath
  • An unpleasant taste in the mouth
However, many people are unaware of these symptoms or do not believe they are signs of a serious problem.


Diagnosis

Your dentist will examine your mouth, paying special attention to your gums and teeth. If you have periodontitis, a dental probeinserted between your tooth and your gums will penetrate deeper than it normally would.

Your dentist may also test for loose teeth. Teeth have a normal range of mobility, but in people with periodontitis, the teeth are looser due to the destruction of the fibers and bone supporting the teeth.

Your dentist may also order X-rays to help diagnose periodontitis. These can be compared with older X-rays to see if changes have occurred in your teeth and gums.


Expected Duration

Unlike gingivitis, periodontitis cannot be completely reversed. In some situations, the supporting fibers and bone that have been lost can be regenerated. In most cases, however, particularly in advanced stages of the disease, the effects are permanent. However, treatment and improved oral hygiene at any stage can improve the health of your gums and prevent further destruction.


Prevention

Daily brushing and flossing (morning and night) and regular visits for professional cleaning can help prevent periodontitis or allow you to have it treated during its earliest stages. If you smoke, quitting will reduce your risk significantly.


Treatment

Treatment depends on how severe your periodontitis is. Dentists classify the disease as mild, moderate or severe.

Mild periodontitis is usually treated first with a thorough cleaning called scaling and root planing. Scaling removes plaque or calculus that has accumulated on the crowns of your teeth (the parts that show) and slightly below the gum line. Root planing has two purposes: 1) to remove plaque or calculus from the roots of your teeth and 2) to smooth the roots of the teeth, making it more difficult for bacteria to cling to them. This, combined with good oral hygiene at home, often is enough for successful treatment.

Moderate periodontitis may require more than scaling and root planing. Typically, your dentist will scale and root-plane your teeth. If this does not take care of the problem, he or she may decide that you need surgical treatment. Surgery can involve reshaping the gums to fit the teeth (resective surgeries) or encouraging lost bone to regrow (regenerative surgeries). Your dentist will decide whether you will need surgery and what type you need.

Severe periodontitis likely will require surgical intervention and, in some instances, antibiotics. At this stage of disease, tooth loss is a distinct possibility.

No matter which treatment you undergo, you should start a strict regimen of brushing and flossing to help restore your teeth to health.


When To Call A Dentist

The best course of action is to get regular dental checkups. If you have persistent bleeding or swelling of your gums or notice loose teeth, call your dentist.


Prognosis

The outlook is good if the disease is recognized early and treated aggressively. Once bone loss occurs, the prognosis depends on the severity of the loss. Quitting smoking is very important for periodontal therapy to be successful. Lifelong maintenance will be required once the disease is controlled.


List of Articles

Periodontal Disease: Causes and Prevention imagefile

  • Oct 01, 2018

What Is It? Periodontitis is a term used to describe a group of conditions that involves inflammation of the gums and other structures that support the teeth. Periodontitis is caused by bacteria found in dental plaque and often, but not always, starts as gingivitis. In trying to eliminate the bacterial infection, your body produces substances that destroy the structures that hold the teeth in the jaw, including ...
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How can I take care of my toothbrush? To keep your toothbrush and yourself healthy, make sure you let it dry out between uses. Toothbrushes can be breeding grounds for germs, fungus and bacteria, which after a while can build up to significant levels. After using your toothbrush, shake it vigorously under tap water and store it in an upright position so that it can air out. To prevent cold and flu viruses from b...
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Dental implants have been used successfully for many years. Your implant should last for a very long time if you take the following points to heart. Smoking This is one of the greatest risks for implant-related complications. You should therefore try to quit smoking. Oral Hygiene Thoroughly cleaning and caring for the implant during all steps of the treatment is extremely important. Careful attention to your oral hygie...
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Jennifer Flach was a college junior when her wisdom teeth started making themselves known. "My other teeth started moving around," she remembers. "The wisdom teeth were pushing out and undoing some of the orthodontic work I had done in high school." At the same time, her brother — who's two years younger and was also in college — had no symptoms. But the family dentist suggested his wisdom teeth should come out ...
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Teeth for a Lifetime Thanks to better at-home care and in-office dental treatments, more people than ever before are keeping their teeth throughout their lives. Although some diseases and conditions can make dental disease and tooth loss more likely, most of us have a good deal of control over whether we keep our teeth into old age. The most important thing you can do to maintain good oral health is to brush ...
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  • Sep 05, 2017

Any injury to the gums or teeth can be very painful. In some cases, however, the cause of severe dental pain is not obvious. For example, pain that comes on suddenly may be caused by particles of food that got lodged in a cavity and have started to irritate the nerve inside the tooth. If you lose a filling or a crown, the nerve inside the tooth may be exposed, and you may feel severe pain when air...
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Keys to Controlling Bad Breath imagefile

  • Aug 02, 2017

If you’re serious about learning what’s causing your bad breath, consider scheduling an appointment with your dental professional. Given your full medical and dental history along with an oral examination, your dentist should be able to identify the culprit. The causes of bad breath are numerous and include certain foods, alcohol or cigarettes, poor oral hygiene, periodontal disease, diabetes, dry mouth, sinus or ...
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  • Feb 28, 2017

What is a Diastema and How do I Treat It? A diastema is an area of extra space between two or more teeth. The two front teeth of the upper jaw area is where diastema is most frequently seen. Many children experience diastema as primary teeth fall out, though in most cases these spaces close when the permanent teeth erupt. Diastemas may also be caused by a tooth size discrepancy, missing teeth or an oversized...
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The Import Reasons for Mouth Guards imagefile

  • Jan 23, 2017

A mouth guard is a soft plastic or laminate device used in sports to prevent oral injuries to the teeth, mouth, cheeks, tongue and jaw. The American Dental Association projects that one third of all dental injuries are sports related. The use of a mouth guard can prevent more than 200,000 oral injuries to the mouth each year. The types of dental injuries that can occur without the use of a mouth guard are chip...
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What Is Fluorosis? imagefile

  • Jan 02, 2017

Your permanent teeth form under your gums in the jawbone during early childhood. Except for your wisdom teeth, the crowns (the part you see in the mouth) of all of the permanent teeth fully form by the time you are about 8 years old. If you consume too much fluoride as a young child, the extra fluoride can disrupt the formation of the enamel (outer part) of your permanent teeth and lead to fluorosis, which...
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Paul Kim, DDS. is a Federal Way Dentist providing dental implants, crowns, bridges, dentures, ClearCorrect®, dental surgery, and emergency dentistry as well as cosmetic dentistry for years.

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