Understanding Periodontal Disease
Periodontal or gum disease is an inflammatory condition that affects tissues surrounding the teeth or gums. If detected early, this disease can be treated before it advances to the jawbone. Gum disease mostly surfaces due to prolonged bacterial infection in the mouth (gingivitis). The bacteria infection (or toxins) eats through the soft tissue leading to inflammation and gum irritation. These bacteria advance into gums between teeth hence making it almost impossible to treat or remove. Unless the infection is attended to medically, these bacteria continue eating away the patient’s gums, which leads to loose teeth, sensitive teeth, and tooth loss eventually. Although preventable and treatable, many people in the developed world lose their teeth due to periodontitis every year. Nonetheless, having a dentist take care of any swollen, inflamed, or painful gums is recommended as it can help save your teeth among other deadly conditions.
Symptoms of a Periodontal Infection
Periodontitis starts as a mild gum infection that spreads below the gum line. The mildness is mainly related to bacteria invading soft tissues and the jawbone, with the bacteria multiplying significantly to cause chronic inflammation. Dentists also refer the cause of inflammation to natural body defense action as it tries to neutralize these bacteria, only to start destroying its own soft tissue and bone instead of the bacteria. Accumulation of toxins in the mouth forces soft tissues around each tooth to soften thus deepening pockets. Reddish and soft, inflamed tissues is a clear indicator of gum infection.
Types Of Gum (Periodontal) Infections
1. Chronic periodontitis: This condition is characterized by gum recession and deep pockets between teeth. This makes teeth appear significantly longer than they should. Chronic periodontitis is very common with adults and mostly seniors. The significant lengthening of teeth is an indicative sign of rapid progression of the condition.
2. Aggressive periodontitis: This condition is not as a result of gum infection as it may occur in healthy individuals. Nonetheless, the patient suffers from familial aggregation, chronic bone destruction, and rapid gum detachment.
3. Necrotizing periodontitis: This condition is very common among individuals suffering from malnutrition, immunosuppression or even HIV. Necrotizing periodontitis is mainly characterized by tissue death (necrosis) which may occur in the alveolar bone, gingival tissues, and periodontal ligament as well.
4. Systemic periodontitis: This gum infection type occurs simply because of another medical condition such as heart disease, diabetes, or respiratory infections.
How to Treat Periodontal Disease
Dentists use different approaches to treating various periodontitis conditions depending on the level of infection or damage. While some conditions can be treated using nonsurgical procedures, most conditions require surgery to correct or repair damaged tissues, or both. Nonetheless, the dentist has to take a complete periodontal exam before he/she can recommend the best treatment method.
Some of the treatment methods include:
1. Tissue regeneration: This treatment method is recommended for cases where most of the gum tissue and bone has been destroyed. The regeneration procedure entails having a gum membrane grafted on the affected area to induce fresh tissue growth.
2. Dental implants: This corrective procedure is recommended for patients who lost most of their teeth to the infection. This method involves inducing tissue regeneration and implanting prosthetic teeth. The main idea is to restore normal functionality of the mouth, and facial aesthetics as well.
3. Pocket elimination surgery: The dentist takes on a surgical procedure to reduce or eliminate pockets between teeth and gums. These pockets can be hiding places for toxic bacterial hence, should be taken care of to prevent a reinfection. Some dentists may consider jawbone surgery to eliminate indentions on the same.
4. Root scaling and planning: This treatment procedure involves cleaning the gums and mouth to restore proper oral health. The dentist may resolve to use an antibiotic solution to kill these bacteria and calculus hence aiding in good health. The patient may also have to use prescription mouthwash to facilitate total elimination of the toxic bacteria.