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Simple Explanation of Periodontal Disease – What Is It and Why Should I Care?

Simple Explanation of Periodontal Disease – What Is It and Why Should I Care?

We dentists and dental professionals seem to want to make periodontal disease more complicated than it really is. Is this part of the reason that patients are not flocking to our doors asking us to please treat their disease?  Is there a way to make Periodontal Disease more understandable?  How about also making different treatment therapies more understandable while we are at it?  Maybe we should create an animated film to review this disease and it’s treatment!

The gums here are very infected and the bone loss is evident on the lower front teeth.

Simply put, periodontal disease means the permanent loss of your jawbone.  You cannot have periodontal disease without permanent bone loss.  No one wants that!  Note here that gum disease or gingivitis is an infection of the gums caused by bacteria.  You can have gum disease without having periodontal disease.

So, how do you know if you have bone loss and periodontal disease?

  • Bone loss will show up on x-rays. Your dentist should be able to show you exactly where there has been bone loss in your mouth.  See x-rays showing bone loss below.
  • Bone loss often involves root exposure.
  • You may have gum recession where the gums are not in their normal position at the neck of the tooth.
  • Your teeth may look longer than they used to because root is exposed.

Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria.  There are good and bad bacteria living in everyone’s mouth.  It is an infectious disease meaning that you can get the bacteria that cause periodontal disease from someone else.  You can also transfer the harmful bacteria form an area of periodontal disease in your own mouth to another, healthy area in your mouth.

Some people are more prone to periodontal disease than others.  This is another reason why I think the disease is poorly understood and why the treatment of periodontal disease needs to be customized to you!   Gum disease can and does lead to periodontal disease.

After age 30, gum disease and periodontal disease is the major reason for tooth loss.  Periodontal disease is the #1 cause of adult tooth loss in the US.

 

Tell me MORE about periodontal disease and treatment!

Bacteria that cause periodontal disease hang out between your teeth and your gums.  A dentist or dental hygienist should measure the depth of this space when you are having any type of periodontal treatment completed.  You can keep 3mm or less pockets clean by yourself with routing brushing, flossing and rinsing.  If you have pockets that are over 4mm deep there is no way you can get to the bottom of the pockets on a daily basis to remove harmful bacteria and toxins.  You will have bacteria living and multiplying and putting toxins in these pockets and this can lead to a chronic gum infection.   You may have even noticed occasional bleeding with flossing or a bad taste or odor in odor mouth from these infections.  In our office, we have a couple of options to treat periodontal disease and help you preserve your teeth.  The objective of periodontal therapy is to reduce the pockets and eliminate infection!

Please see our office’s blog titled, “What Are My Options For Treating Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease with bone loss showing on x-ray.

The pocket area around every one of your teeth adds up to an area the size of your palm.  If you had a sore this big on your arm, would you be concerned?  I think you would!  If there were a chance of losing part of your arm, would you treat this?  Infected gums can be the entry point for bacteria to travel to other parts of your body and this leads to

  • Increased risk of heart attack or stroke
  • Increased difficulty controlling diabetes
  • Pregnant women with severe gum disease are more likely to deliver a pre-term low-birth weight baby.
  • Because periodontal disease is transmissible, your spouse may be sharing aggressive bacteria with you

Our office cares about you and your periodontal health.  We would like you to be as informed as possible about Periodontal Disease and your options to treat it!  We are continuing to improve our methods of periodontal therapy for our patients so that is more comfortable and more predictable.

Yours for better dental health, and improved knowledge about the very common periodontal disease,

Julie Gillis, DDS

Restoring Teeth/Restoring Smiles