Periodontal Gum Disease - is a chronic inflammation or swelling and infection of the gums and the tissue around it. It is the major cause of adult tooth loss, accounting for 70% of these cases. It is primarily caused by bacterial plaque which sticks on the teeth. Bacterial plaque could harden to tartar or calculus; a rough and porous substance. Tartar excretes toxins that cause gum irritation, leading to the breakdown of fibers that hold the gums securely to the teeth due to the development of periodontal pockets that can hold even more toxins and bacteria. As the condition worsens, the accumulated toxins and bacteria move deeper and destroy the bone that holds the tooth in place.
There are some warning signs for gum disease. Among them are:
- Red, inflamed or tender gums
- bleeding occurs while brushing or flossing
- gums that recede away from teeth
- loose or separating teeth
- puss between the gum and tooth
- persistent halitosis
- alteration in the way teeth fit together when the patient bites
- alteration in the fit of partial dentures
Genetic factor, lifestyle, and diet may predispose you to periodontal gum disease. Some of these factors are:
- Poor Nutrition, as it may lead to a weaker defense against infection
- Smoking, as it irritates the gum tissues
- Diseases like AIDS, leukemia which leave the body immuno-compromised
- Uncontrolled Diabetes
Periodontal gum disease can be treated while still in the early stages or gingivitis. It involves scaling and root planing-removing plaque and calculus surrounding the tooth and smoothing the root surfaces. Antibiotics may be used in conjunction with the treatment and daily cleaning. More advanced cases require surgical treatment such as cutting the gums, and removing the hardened plaque build-up and recontouring the damaged bone. If periodontal disease is left untreated, the tooth will eventually fall off or require extraction.
Periodontal gum disease can be prevented. All you have to do is practice proper oral hygiene by brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing your teeth daily. Doing these together with professional cleaning is the ideal way to minimize the risk for developing the periodontal condition. Regular dental check-up with an interval of 3-4 months also helps as it monitors your dental health. If the dentist detects a problem, necessary steps could be taken immediately. More advanced cases will be referred to a periodontist to plan the necessary treatment.