Periodontics & Gum Therapy
what are periodontal gum diseases?
The word periodontal literally means “around the tooth.” Periodontal diseases are serious bacterial infections that destroy the attachment fibers and supporting bone that hold your teeth in your mouth. Left untreated, these diseases can lead to tooth loss.
There are many forms of periodontal disease:
- Aggressive periodontitis
- Chronic periodontitis
- Periodontitis as a manifestation of systemic diseases
- Necrotizing periodontal diseases
- What is my risk of having or developing periodontal disease?
Millions of people have periodontal disease and don’t know it. The American Academy of Periodontology’s patient self-assessment tool will help you become familiar with the main risk factors and assess your own risk for periodontal disease.YOU MAY HAVE GUM DISEASE IF:
If you notice any symptoms of periodontal disease, including:
- gums that bleed easily, such as during brushing or flossing
- red, swollen or tender gums
- gums that have pulled away from the teeth
- persistent bad breath
- pus between the teeth and gums
- loose or separating teeth
- a change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- a sore or irritation in your mouth that does not get better within two weeks
Is there a relationship between tobacco use and periodontal disease?
Studies have shown that tobacco use may be one of the most significant risk factors in the development and progression of periodontal disease. Smokers are much more likely than non-smokers to have calculus form on their teeth, have deeper pockets between the teeth and gums and lose more of the bone and tissue that support the teeth.
Is it normal for my gums to bleed when I brush my teeth?
Bleeding gums are one of the signs of gum disease. Think of gum tissue as the skin on your hand. If your hands bled every time you washed them, you would know something was wrong. There are a number of other warning signs of gum disease.
What are pockets?
Your bone and gum tissue should fit snugly around your teeth like a turtleneck around your neck. When you have periodontal disease, this supporting tissue and bone is destroyed, forming “pockets” around the teeth. Over time, these pockets become deeper, providing a larger space in which bacteria can live. As bacteria develop around the teeth, they can accumulate and advance under the gum tissue. These deep pockets collect even more bacteria, resulting in further bone and tissue loss. Eventually, if too much bone is lost, the teeth will need to be extracted.
Could my periodontal disease be genetic?
Research proves that up to 30% of the population may be genetically susceptible to gum disease. Despite aggressive oral care habits, these people may be six times more likely to develop periodontal disease. Identifying these people with a genetic test before they even show signs of the disease and getting them into early interventive treatment may help them keep their teeth for a lifetime.
Can I pass my periodontal disease to others?
Periodontal disease may be passed from parents to children and between couples, according to an article in the September 1997 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association. Researchers suggest that bacteria causing periodontal disease are passed though saliva. This means that when a family or couple comes into contact with each other’s saliva, they’re at risk for contracting the periodontal disease of another family member. Based on this research, the American Academy of Periodontology recognizes that treatment of gum disease may involve entire families. If one family member has periodontal disease, the AAP recommends that all family members see a dental professional for a periodontal disease screening.
What can I do to avoid periodontal disease?
To keep your teeth for a lifetime, you must remove the plaque from your teeth and gums every day with proper brushing and flossing. Regular dental visits are also important. Daily cleaning will help keep calculus formation to a minimum, but it won’t completely prevent it. A professional cleaning at least twice a year is necessary to remove calculus from places your toothbrush and floss may have missed.
I’m over 55. Does this mean I’m more likely to get periodontal disease?
Your chances of developing periodontal disease increase considerably as you get older. More than half of people aged 55 and older have periodontitis. The good news is that research suggests that these higher rates may be related to risk factors other than age. So, periodontal disease is not an inevitable part of aging. Risk factors that may make older people more susceptible include general health status, diminished immune status, medications, depression, worsening memory, diminished salivary flow, functional impairments and change in financial status.
If you have a family member with periodontal disease. Research suggests that the bacteria that cause periodontal disease can pass through saliva. This means the common contact of saliva in families puts children and couples at risk for contracting the periodontal disease of another family member.
If you have heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease or osteoporosis. Ongoing research is showing that periodontal disease may be linked to these conditions. The bacteria associated with periodontal disease can travel into the blood stream and pose a threat to other parts of the body. Healthy gums may lead to a healthier body.
If you feel that your teeth are too short or that your smile is too “gummy.” Or, if you are missing one or more of your teeth and are interested in a long-lasting replacement option.
If you are not satisfied with your current tooth replacement option, such as a bridge or dentures, and may be interested in dental implants.
Oral Care Products
what kinds of oral care products should I use?
Here are some guidelines for choosing dental care products – what works for most patients most of the time. To find out what is best for your particular needs, talk to your periodontist.
Begin with the right equipment – a soft bristled toothbrush that allows you to reach every surface of each tooth. If the bristles on your toothbrush are bent or frayed, buy a new one. A worn-out brush will not clean your teeth properly.
In addition to manual toothbrushes, your choices include automatic toothbrushes and “high tech” electronic toothbrushes. These are safe and effective for the majority of patients.
Oral irrigators (water spraying devices) will not remove plaque from your teeth unless used in conjunction with brushing and flossing.
Another aid is the rubber tip, often found on the handle end of a toothbrush used to massage the gums after brushing and flossing.
Other options include interproximal toothbrushes (tiny brushes that clean plaque between teeth) and interdental cleaners (small sticks or picks that remove plaque between teeth). If used improperly, these dental aids can injure the gums, so it is important to discuss proper use with your periodontist.
The Preventive Program
Both natural teeth and teeth with restorations survive best in an oral environment that is clean and where the intake of harmful foods is controlled. Our program is designed to help prevent new cavities, preserve teeth that have been restored and manage periodontal disease. At the initial visit oral hygiene instructions are reviewed and are reinforced at subsequent recall visits. The following are helpful recommendations:
1. Brush your teeth twice a day in a circular motion with a soft bristled toothbrush aimed at the gum.
2. Clean Between your teeth with an inter- dental cleaner. Try the latest PerioTwist available at Dr. Coopersmith’s office or online www.periotwist.com. You can also Floss every night in an up and down motion while keeping the floss in a U-shape and against the tooth surface.
3. Avoid smoking
4. Avoid sticky sugary foods.
5. Eat a balanced diet.
6. Use antiseptic and fluoride rinses as directed.
7. Sealants placed on young permanent teeth.
Women and Tooth Care
Women have special needs when it comes to their oral health. That’s because the physical changes they undergo through life-things like menstruation, pregnancy and childbirth, breast-feeding and menopause-cause many changes in the body, some harmful to teeth and gums.
Lesions and ulcers, dry sockets, as well as swollen gums, can sometimes occur during surges in a woman’s hormone levels. These periods would be a prime time to visit the dentist. Birth control pills have been shown to increase the risk of gingivitis, and hormone replacement therapy has been shown to cause bleeding and swollen gums. Gum disease can also present a higher risk for premature births.
Some research has shown that women may be more likely to develop dry mouth, eating disorders, jaw problems such as temporomandibular joint disorders, and facial pain-all of which can be difficult from a physical and emotional standpoint.If you are thinking of becoming pregnant. Pregnant women who have periodontal disease may be seven times more likely to have a baby born too early and too small. In addition, about half of women experience “pregnancy gingivitis.” However, women who have good oral hygiene and have no gingivitis before pregnancy are very unlikely to experience this condition.
Taking care of your oral health is essential, and can go a long way to helping you face the physical changes in your body over the years.
Seniors and Oral Health
Good Oral Hygiene
more and more people today are avoiding the need for dentures as they grow older, bucking the notion that false teeth are a normal part of growing older.
In fact, there’s usually no reason for you NOT to keep your teeth your entire life, providing you maintain a healthy balanced diet and practice good oral hygiene.
Another desirable side effect of good oral hygiene: avoiding more serious problems such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and even stroke. Indeed, medical research is beginning to show that a healthy mouth equates to a healthy body.
And just because you’re getting older doesn’t mean you can relax on your daily routine. This means brushing twice a day, flossing, and rinsing.
Dexterity and Arthritis
People who suffer from arthritis or other problems of dexterity may find it difficult and painful to practice good oral hygiene.
Thankfully, industry has responded with ergonomically designed devices such as toothbrushes and floss holders that make it easier to grasp and control.
You can also use items around the house to help you. Inserting the handle of your toothbrush into a small rubber ball, or extending the handle by attaching a small piece of plastic or Popsicle stick may also do the trick.
Floss can also be tied into a tiny loop on either side, making it easier to grasp and control the floss with your fingers.
Another flossing alternative is called a water pick, or irrigator.
Water picks use powerful tiny bursts of water to blast away food particles and other debris in hard-to-reach areas of your mouth. Dentists use professional-grade water picks when preparing a tooth for restoration, or in general cleaning and exams.
Having to wear dentures is one of the risks of poor oral hygiene. Older adults also may be at risk for such oral problems as:
Gingivitis – a condition that occurs when bacteria and plaque invade below the gum line, causing inflammation of the soft tissues and, sometimes, bleeding. Advanced gingivitis can lead to formation of a substance called tartar (also called calculus), which is a hard and crusty coating that can usually only be removed by scraping.
Periodontal (gum) disease – Usually the advanced stages of gingivitis, gum disease begins with infections in the gums that can spread to the teeth and bones. Advanced forms of gum disease can lead to a host or problems that can only be treated by extreme measures such as extraction.
Dry mouth – Older adults sometimes experience diminished production of saliva and a condition called dry mouth, which leads to problems such as swallowing or speech difficulty. Certain kinds of medications and even cancer treatment can cause dry mouth. One of the more serious consequences of dry mouth is greater susceptibility to cavities and other oral problems because saliva acts as a natural rinsing agent in the mouth.
Oral cancer – All adults, young and old, are more prone to certain kinds of oral cancer. There are risks factors such as tobacco use and alcohol, HRV viral infections and even heredity. But avoiding use of cigarettes, chewing tobacco and minimizing your intake of alcohol can go a long way ion defending against some kinds of oral cancer. Early signs of oral cancer are unusual lumps, patches or lesions, as well as unexplained or chronic bleeding.