What is Periodontal Disease?
The word "periodontal" is a combination of two different words: "perio" meaning around, and "dontal" which refers to teeth. Thus, periodontal treatment deals with the care of the tissues surrounding and supporting your teeth. This includes the gums and underlying bone. Other names for periodontal disease include "gum disease, pyorrhea, bad gums, and periodontitis".
In a healthy mouth, the gums protect the underlying jawbone, which holds your teeth in your mouth.
The disease process usually begins with the accumulation of plaque. Plaque is the soft white deposit that accumulates on your teeth - it is made up of left-over food and germs (bacteria). The germs start the infection by attacking the gums, which are the first line of defense. Gums are also known as gingiva. When the gingiva gets infected by the plaque, it is called gingivitis. In many, but not all cases, you might notice bleeding gums at this stage. Gingivitis is treatable with professional care and good tooth cleaning at home.
If the plaque is not removed, it can harden and "glue" itself onto the teeth. This is known as tartar, and can only be removed by a dental professional. The tartar can also develop below the gum line, where it is even more difficult to clean.
The germs in the plaque release poisons, which can irritate and infect the gums. The toxins also create inflammation, which destroys the supporting tissues around the teeth, including the bone. As a result, the gums separate from the teeth and no longer seal the bone - the gaps that form are known as "periodontal pockets". You can't clean inside these deep pockets, and the bone is now subject to destruction. As the bone starts to dissolve, your teeth may become loose and start to shift. The pockets make cleaning even more difficult, more plaque builds up, more gum tissue and bone are destroyed, and the disease process progresses. Eventually, if left untreated, periodontal disease can result in loss of teeth.
Why is it important to treat Periodontal Disease?
It is important to treat Periodontal Disease for both Dental and Medical reasons. Did you know that at least 75% of adult tooth loss is due to periodontal disease? Early detection and treatment are very successful in saving teeth.
Dental: How saving your teeth will help your oral health:
*Able to chew your food better.
*Better nutrition, a better diet, and a healthier body as you age.
*Ability to speak clearly.
*A nice appearance, a confident smile.
*If teeth are extracted, your other teeth will shift, resulting in malocclusion (bad bite). *It is cheaper to treat and save your teeth than to replace them. Although we have many replacement options these days, including dentures and bridges, there is nothing better than having your own teeth!
Medical: How saving your teeth will help your overall health:
New research shows that better control of Periodontal Disease is strongly associated with better overall health. According to Dr. Genco, editor of the Journal of Periodontology, "Gum disease is a serious infection that can release bacteria into the bloodstream". Once in the bloodstream, the germs from your mouth can travel throughout your body. Periodontal disease has now been linked to several medical issues. Studies have shown that prevention and treatment of periodontal disease can help improve overall health as well. Click above on the word "More" (in the Brown header) to open our Medical-Dental Issues page for additional information.
How do I know if I have Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease usually doesn't hurt. Many times, your general dentist is the first one who sees a problem at a check-up visit. As patients become more educated, they may start to notice some of the warning signs themselves.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Periodontal Disease?
*Bleeding, red, or puffy gums.
*Recession. You may notice that your teeth are starting to look longer, which is a sign that the gums are receding. This used to be known as "getting longer in the tooth".
*Teeth that have moved in position.
*Larger spaces between the teeth.
*Pus, swelling, or an abscess (infection)
What are some risk factors for Periodontal Disease?
*Kissing: You can pick up some of the germs that cause periodontal disease from kissing your spouse. So, if your husband or wife has periodontal disease, both of you should be evaluated.
*Stress: Stress releases hormones in your bloodstream, which can make you more susceptible to periodontal problems.
*Clenching or Grinding your teeth: Clenching or grinding your teeth places excessive forces on your teeth. They can crack, chip, or get loose. The excess pressure is transmitted to the supporting jawbone and can cause the bone to dissolve.
*Smoking: Before the tar, nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes reach your lungs, your mouth is the first place these noxious agents settle. People who smoke often have more tartar (hard deposits that glue themselves onto the teeth), the tartar is more difficult to remove, and smokers do not react to treatment as well as non-smokers.
*Medications: Various medications can cause your gums to become enlarged and overgrown. The excess gum tissue covers the teeth so you can't even clean them. Some examples are:
1.Calcium channel blockers (blood pressure medication), such as Procardia, Norvasc, Verapramil, and Plendil.
2.Anti-rejection medications, such as Cyclosporine-A.
3.Anti-seizure medications, such as Dilantin.
*Diabetes: Diabetic patients have more difficulty fighting infections, including periodontal disease. They are more likely to develop periodontal disease and have more severe bone loss than non-diabetics. In turn, this infection can impair their ability to utilize insulin, and their glucose levels can increase. Fortunately, studies have shown that control of periodontal disease will help control your blood sugar.
*Hormonal issues, such as Puberty, Menstruation, Pregnancy, and Menopause: As women's hormone levels change, the gums can be affected. They can become overly sensitive to plaque, resulting in swollen, red, tender, puffy gums. The best way to avoid periodontal problems is to begin with healthy gums and learn how to keep them healthy.
But, there is good news! More than 90% of patients who are treated for Periodontal Disease and continue with Periodontal Maintenance have successful results and keep their teeth. Of course, the earlier the disease is treated, the better the success rate!
Monday: 9:45 am - 7:30 pm
Tuesday: 9:45 am - 7:30 pm
Thursday: 9:45 am - 5 pm
Friday: 9:45 am - 6 pm
Dr. Linda Leon
138 Stage Rd.
Monroe, NY 10950
PHONE: (845) 783-4490
FAX: (845) 782-7030