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IS PERIODONTAL DISEASE?
means “around the tooth”.
Periodontal disease is a
bacterial gum infection that destroys the attachment fibers
and supporting bone that hold your teeth in your mouth. It
can affect all people at any age.
main cause is plaque that forms daily (a
sticky film on teeth).
It contains bacteria, by-products of bacteria, and salvia.
Bacteria use sugar (carbohydrates) to grow and produce acid
that attacks the enamel and cause cavities. Plaque can be reduced by daily
brushing and flossing.
If plaque is not removed, minerals in
saliva combine with plaque at the tooth surface and harden
into rough mineral deposits, calculus (tartar, hard build-up). Calculus will
develop in less than two days both over and under the
gum-line and bacteria will stick to it.
Toothbrush and floss can't remove
It can only be
removed with special instruments at the dental office. If it
is not removed periodontal disease will occur.
produce toxins (poisons) that irritate the gum, cause
infection, start the inflammatory process and destroy the
bone and fibers around the tooth.
The body’s immune system
response sometimes over-reacts leading to further bone
The gum draws back from the tooth (creates a pocket)
and allows more bacteria to enter.
If untreated the pocket
gets deeper, the bone is destroyed, the teeth loosen and
In addition these bacteria and the
inflammation process can travel throughout the body.
Research has linked periodontal diseases to preterm, low
birth weight babies, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Often, this destructive process has mild or undetected
Contributors to development of periodontal disease
impacted food between teeth, tobacco, alcohol, improper use
of dental floss or toothpicks, badly aligned teeth, poorly
fitting fillings/crowns/bridges/partial dentures, grinding
teeth, nutritional deficiency, reduced immune system,
pregnancy, medications and systemic diseases.
THE STAGES OF PERIODONTAL DISEASE
Normal, healthy teeth
are anchored to the bone and gum by fibers. There is a
normal but narrow space around each tooth known as the
sulcus (around 1-3 mm).
The mildest form – The early stage - Bacterial deposits
build up on the tooth surface causing irritation to the gum
and periodontal ligament fibers. Gums become red, swollen
and bleed easily. There is usually little or no discomfort.
Gingivitis is reversible with professional treatment and
optimal home oral care. Pockets are about 1-4 mm.
When gingivitis is untreated, the breakdown of supporting
bone and tissue proceeds, the space around the tooth
deepens. The sulcus is now called a pocket. The depth of the
pocket is measured carefully, and provides information as to
the stage of the disease. (“Mild” 1-2 mm loss of attaching
fibers and bone – called Clinical Attachment Loss -
Usually seen with 5 mm pockets).
Moderate to advanced Periodontitis:
The plaque and its byproducts attack further, causing more
of the fibers and bone support to be lost. The tooth might
loosen, and the root may become exposed and sensitive.
Unless treated, the tooth may fall out or need to be
removed. (“Moderate” 3-4 mm or “Advanced” 5 mm or higher
Clinical Attachment Loss – Usually seen with 6 mm pockets or
Periodontal disease can be seen localized to one or few
teeth or generalized on several or all teeth.
SYMPTOMS OF PERIODONTAL DISEASE
Usually Periodontal Infection is painless until it reaches
more advanced stages.
Possible warning signs can be :
Gums bleed easily, are red, swollen or tender (when you
brush or floss).
Gums have pulled away from the teeth (receding gums,
teeth look longer)
Pus between the teeth and gums when the gums are pressed
Persistent bad breath or bad taste
Pain when chewing
Teeth are loose, separating or protruding (spaces
Change in your bite or in the fit of partial dentures
Teeth are sensitive to hot and cold
Reasons for Gum pain
Food trauma (e.g. spicy, hot, food fragment)
Mouth ulcer (various types)
Various other conditions
have any of these symptoms call Dr Hoffmeyer. She is trained
to diagnose them.