If you are worried that you may have gum disease, or worse, have been told you’ve got it, what does it mean?
Periodontal Disease describes a syndrome characterized by some or all of the following:
- bleeding gums
- bone loss
- mobility of teeth
- bad breath and/or receding gums
Why does it happen? Perio Disease happens to be one of the bodies‚Äô responses to inflammation caused by bacteria around the teeth. Plaque left on tooth surfaces long enough gets progressively nastier and more toxic to the body. Inflammation is the bodies defense against the bacteria and their toxins, and it seems that this inflammation can lead to the breakdown of the bone that holds your teeth in place. This leads to “pocketing” where the gum pulls away from the tooth. These pockets tend to be harder to keep clean and tend to harbor nasty bacteria which can lead to even further bone breakdown.
So what to do about it?
Deep scaling and rootplanning is the best place to start. The patient may be anaeshetized and quadrants of the mouth are meticulously cleaned using curettes gently placed under the gums. Some of this is normally done by the hygienist during a normal cleaning, but a better, more definitive job can be done one quarter of the mouth at a time while the mouth is numb. At these initial therapy visits (2 or 4 visits usually) homecare training is given. This patient education may be the most important part of the visit since a patient‚Äôs ability to keep their mouth clean will probably determine whether their mouth remains healthy afterwards.
When this initial therapy is over, it is best to place patients on a frequent recare schedule so that their mouth remains healthy. Cleaning with our hygienists every three months is usually recommended. If there is a worsening of the periodontal condition this will be caught during a subsequent recare examination.