Gum disease can be rampant and yet so avoidable. The most prevalent is periodontitis. The root meaning of the word is “inflammation around the tooth.”
When it comes to periodontitis, one is not looking at just having their mouth affected. Gum disease can send bacteria into the bloodstream and cause, or at least contribute to, other conditions, including diabetes and cancer. Keeping one’s mouth in good shape can greatly improve the odds of staying healthy.
One’s gums may become inflamed and turn colors. rangjng from red to purple, depending on the severity of the infection. They can be tender to the touch. Teeth may become loose. Chewing may become painful.
There are several types of periodontitis –
- Chronic – This is the most common type of periodonitis. It can affect both children and adults. Plaque buildup and one’s gums slowly deteriorate if it’s not treated.
- Aggressive – Much rarer than chronic periodonitis. This usually starts as a child or one gets it as a young adult.
- Necrotizing – When this happens, gum tissue, supporting bone and tooth ligaments die since there is no blood supply to this area. Immune-suppressed patients like those who have had chemotherapy for cancer or have HIV are at risk to have this happen.
Plaque can form on the teeth, but regular daily brushing and flossing can remove that. Though if left unchecked, it can cause gingivitis- which is reversible if one goes back to their regular oral health routine.
It’s when there has been more neglect after the gingivitis has begun that the plaque forms under the gumline and hardens and becomes tartar. Once tartar has formed, only a dentist can remove it.
If one keeps ignoring the problem, then pockets of this plaque and tartar, along with bacteria, can form and cause periodontitis. Serious dental intervention is now required to try to prevent tooth loss.
Treatment and Prevention
A dentist will have to diagnose periodontal disease since some of the symptoms can be signs of other problems – like cancer.
The best way to keep this from even reaching this stage or even getting gingivitis is to properly brush and floss one’s teeth daily. Brush twice everyday for two minutes using a soft-bristled manual or electric toothbrush, being careful to not use too hard of a motion or otherwise risk the chance of damaging the enamel of their teeth or irritating their gums.
Another course of action may have to be scaling and root planing. This is a deeper cleaning than one gets when they go in for a regular cleaning. The dentist will go under the gumline and look for pockets of plaque to remove. They also debride the area to remove rough spots on the roots.
The dentist may prescribe antibiotics. How they are distributed depends on the severity of the gum disease. A patient may have to rinse with a special mouthwash or take a pill orally. Other methods include gels, and slow-release antibiotics that are inserted into the gums via a small chip. Tiny microspheres can also be inserted and release the antibiotics that way.
If the dentist determines that either the gum disease has progressed too far or that the antibiotics are not working, then they may take the next step – surgery.
- Flap surgery – This procedure is done if it appears that the scaling and root planing did not work. A periodontist does this and it involves cleaning out the tartar and then stitching the gums to the teeth to close any pockets and make it easier to brush and floss.
- Grafts – This becomes necessary if bone and tissue have been destroyed. The periodontist puts a piece of mesh between jaw and teeth and this guides the regeneration efforts.
It can’t be stressed enough that simply maintaining a good oral health routine and making a trip to the dentist twice a year is almost always all that is needed to keep gingivitis and periodontitis at bay.
Other ways include not smoking and watching one’s weight. An overall healthy lifestyle is important. Strong teeth can lead to a strong body.
While the staff at Hagerstown Dentist can treat periodontitis, there may be a need for tooth extraction. This is also part of their specialty, since they specialize in dentures and dental implants. They will make every effort to save teeth first, though. If you feel like you need help, give them a call at either their Hagerstown (301-200-9585) or Frederick (301-660-1762) locations.
1303 Pennsylvania Ave.
Hagerstown, MD 21740
Phone: (301) 200-9585