Periodontal Disease

on Tuesday, 12 June 2012. Posted in Dental Care, Beauty and Skincare Written By: Dr. Parul Rekhi

Know more about this gum disease and prevent oral troubles well in time

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is an infection of the tissues that support your teeth. Your gum tissue is not attached to the teeth as high as it may seem. There is a very shallow, v-shaped, crevice called a sulcus, between the tooth and the gums.

Periodontal diseases attack just below the gum line in the sulcus, where they cause the attachment of the tooth and it's supporting tissues to break down. As the tissues are damaged, the sulcus develops into a pocket.  Generally, the more severe the disease, greater is the depth of the pocket.

Causes of periodontal disease

Gingivitis: It is one of the major causes. This gum disease is caused due to the long-term effects of plaque deposits on your teeth. Plaque is a sticky material made of bacteria, mucus, and food debris that develops on the exposed parts of the teeth. It is a major cause of tooth decay.

If you do not remove plaque, it turns into a hard deposit called tartar (or calculus) that becomes trapped at the base of the tooth. Plaque and tartar irritate and inflame the gums. Bacteria and the toxins they produce cause the gums to become infected, swollen, and tender.

Gingivitis is the mild form of gum disease and if left untreated it leads to a very serious and destructive disease Periodontitis.

Plaque: The root causes of gum disease. Irregular brushing and flossing is a major cause for accumulation of plaque. Plaque when hardens turns into tartar (calculus).

Lifestyle: Smoking, chewing tobacco, clenching or grinding teeth or even improper use of toothpicks

Medical conditions: Diabetes, pregnancy and some medications like oral contraceptives, steroids, anti-epileptic drugs, cancer therapy drugs etc.

Diet: Nutritional deficiencies or excessive alcohol consumption

Other causes: Defective fillings, crooked tooth

Warning Signs

In the early stages of periodontal (gum) disease, called gingivitis, the gums can become red, swollen and bleed easily. At this stage, the disease is still reversible and can usually be eliminated by daily brushing and flossing.

In the more advanced stages of periodontal (gum) disease, called periodontitis, the gums and bone that support the teeth can become seriously damaged. The teeth can become loose, fall out or have to be removed by a dentist.

Other signs and symptoms

  • The gums are usually painless or mildly tender.
  • Plaque and tartar may be seen at the base of the teeth.
  • Bad taste in your mouth
  • Bad breath
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Gums that bleed easily
  • Teeth that feel loose/ gums that have pulled away from the teeth
  • Sensitivity
  • Mobility
  • Spaces appearing between teeth

Prevention and treatment

  • Brush thoroughly twice a day. This removes the film of bacteria from the teeth.
  • Be sure to use a soft-bristled toothbrush that is in good condition.
  • Toothpastes and mouth rinses containing fluoride strengthen the teeth and help prevent decay.
  • Hold the brush at 45 degree angle where the gum line meets the teeth. Gently vibrate the brush back and forth in one place for several seconds. Brush your tongue to remove bacteria that cause bad breath.
  • Cleaning between your teeth with floss or inter-dental cleaners removes bacteria and food particles from between the teeth, where a toothbrush can't reach.
  • Removal of tartar by scaling and polishing your teeth at least twice a year ( for smokers & pan eaters thrice a year)
  • Regular use of mouth washes/warm saline rinses also help to prevent periodontal disease
  • Rinse with water after every meal
  • Eat a balanced diet. Choose a variety of foods from the basic food groups, such as breads, cereals and other grain products; fruits; vegetables; meat, poultry and fish; and dairy products, such as milk, cheese and yogurt. Limit between-meal snacks.
  • In later Stages: Gum trimming, deep cleaning, or Flap surgery may be required.

Nearly three out of four people will get some form of gum disease sometime in their lives and if it goes untreated, it lead to periodontitis and even tooth loss. It is a major cause of tooth loss in adults. Because periodontal (gum) disease is usually painless, however, you may not know you have it.

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About the Author

Dr. Parul Rekhi

Dr. Parul Rekhi

Dr. Parul Rekhi is a Dentist on HealthTzars' Panel. For more, read Doctor Profile