Cleveland Periodontal Disease Treatment
Periodontal diseases which attack the gums, bone and ligaments that support the teeth are a leading cause of tooth loss in adults. In fact, more than half of all people over the age of 18 have at least the early stages of some type of periodontal disease. By age 35, three out of four people are affected; however, periodontal diseases can strike at any age. Children as young as 5 or 6 can have signs of some of these diseases. Periodontal diseases are usually painless, and they may develop slowly or progress quite rapidly. Without regular checkups, you may not be aware that you have a periodontal disease until your gums and bone have been damaged to the point where tooth loss is inevitable.
Periodontal diseases can be prevented, however, it's important to understand what causes them, practice good oral health care habits and see your dentist on a regular basis.
The Causes of Periodontal Diseases
Periodontal diseases are caused by certain types of bacteria in plaque, the sticky, colorless film of bacteria that constantly forms on your teeth. These bacteria create toxins which irritate the gums and result in the breakdown of the attachment of gum tissues to your teeth. Over time, these toxins can destroy gum tissues and lead to bone loss.
In addition, plaque that is not removed from your teeth can combine with other materials and harden into a rough, porous deposit called calculus or tartar. Calculus on the surface of your teeth, above the gum line, may not contribute to periodontal diseases. Calculus on the root surface below the gums, however, makes removal of new plaque and bacteria more difficult. And unlike plaque which you can remove, only a dentist or dental hygienist can remove calculus.
Although periodontal diseases are caused by plaque, other factors can increase the risk, severity and speed of the condition's development. These factors include:
- Smoking or chewing tobacco
- Poorly fitting bridges, badly aligned teeth or defective fillings
- Habits such as clenching or grinding your teeth
- Poor or unbalanced diets
- Pregnancy or the use of oral contraceptives
- Systemic diseases such as diabetes
- Use of some types of medications
Types of Periodontal Diseases
There are many types of periodontal diseases, but the most common types are gingivitis and adult periodontitis. Gingivitis is the earliest stage and affects gum tissue only. At this stage, the disease can still be treated and reversed. Left unchecked, however, gingivitis can lead to more serious problems. Periodontitis is the more advanced stage of periodontal diseases. Gums, bone and other structures that support the teeth can become so severely damaged that teeth become loose and fall out. At this point, complex treatments may be required to prevent tooth loss.
Preventing Periodontal Diseases
You can avoid periodontal diseases and keep your teeth and gums healthy by taking proper care of them. First, keep your teeth clean by brushing thoroughly at least twice a day to remove plaque. Use a soft bristled toothbrush that is in good condition. Worn-out or hard bristled brushes can injure your gums. Use dental floss to help remove plaque between teeth. Gingivitis can often be reversed by regular daily brushing and cleaning between teeth. Fluoride toothpastes and mouth rinses are recommended to help prevent tooth decay. Dr. Jaffe may also suggest the use of an antimicrobial rinse as an effective supplement to your daily oral hygiene regimen.
Next, eat a healthy balanced diet consisting of foods from the basic food groups. These foods will help to provide adequate proteins, carbohydrates, fats vitamins, minerals and water.
Third, be sure to schedule regular checkups with your dentist. Professional cleaning is essential to preventing periodontal diseases. Call the office immediately if you notice any of the following warning signs:
- Gums that bleed easily
- Red, swollen or tender gums
- Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
- Pus between the teeth and gums when the gums are pressed
- Persistent bad breath or bad taste
- Permanent teeth that are loose or separating
- Any change in your bite or the way your teeth fit together
- Any changes in the fit of your partial dentures
You may be suffering from periodontal disease without any of these signals, so it's important to see your dentist regularly.
Treating Periodontal Diseases
Treatment depends on the type of disease and the extent to which it has progressed. Regardless of the treatment plan, good daily oral hygiene is essential to the success of any periodontal therapy.
The first step is usually a thorough cleaning which may include "scaling" to remove plaque and calculus deposits below the gum line. Tooth roots may also be "planed" to smooth the root surface to allow gum tissue to heal. Antibiotics or irrigation with antimicrobial agents or rinses may be recommended to help control the growth of bacteria which cause periodontitis.
Medications placed under the gum tissue against the tooth root enhance healing. Conservative scaling with chemotherapeutic agents is the preferred initial periodontal therapy.
In some cases, surgery may be required when deeper pockets are found. It is difficult for the dentist or hygienist to thoroughly remove plaque and calculus from deep pockets, and patients can rarely keep them clean and free of plaque. Allowing these deep pockets to go untreated can result in infection and bone damage. When pockets are deep and bone has been destroyed, "flap surgery" may be required to provide access to the roots in order to remove plaque, calculus and damaged tissue. This technique involves lifting the gum away and suturing it back in place or into a new position that will be easier to keep clean. Bone surgery is sometimes used in conjunction with flap surgery to reshape the bone around the tooth.
Surgical procedures to correct areas of moderate to severe recession may be indicated. Good daily oral hygiene is a key element of any treatment of periodontal disease. The office will also schedule appointments at regular intervals as part of your treatment plan to assure that you are maintaining a satisfactory level of oral hygiene to remove any accumulated plaque or calculus and be sure that your periodontal disease remains under control.
Remember, periodontal diseases can be avoided by brushing and cleaning your teeth daily, eating a balanced diet, and regular maintenance appointments.