Periodontal Disease 101

What it is
Periodontal disease, known as gum disease or periodontitis, is one of the most common causes of tooth loss. In the United States, it is estimated that half of Americans aged 30 or older have advanced gum disease. While highly prevalent, this dental condition is preventable with a good oral health regimen.

Cause
Periodontal disease symptoms become apparent as bacteria and debris accumulate around teeth and below the gum line and hardens into tartar. If not removed by a professional, tartar and bacteria can cause inflammation of the gums and weakening of teeth.
There are variables that can increase your risk of periodontitis that range from genetic predisposition and underlying health conditions, to certain lifestyle habits. Diet, taking certain medications, decreased immunity, and hormonal changes can also increase your chances of developing gum disease.

Stages
Periodontitis begins with the onset of gingivitis. In this early stage, bacteria builds up, irritating the surrounding gums. As bacteria accumulate and plaque builds and hardens into tartar, there is a weakening of bone and connective tissue that keeps teeth in their sockets. As bacteria spreads, pockets that trap further bacteria begin to form around teeth and under soft tissue. In patients with advanced periodontal disease, teeth become loose and fall out.

Symptoms
One of the most difficult aspects of spotting periodontal disease without help from a dentist is that the condition can progress slowly in patients and may not always produce obvious signs. Patients may notice:
– Gum tenderness
– Gum recession
– Bad breath or bad taste in your mouth
– Loose teeth or a change in teeth alignment
Diagnosis of gum disease typically involves visiting a dentist for a visual examination of your oral condition, as well as charting pocket depths and using X-Rays to check bone loss in areas with deeper periodontal pockets.

Treatment
Early diagnosis gives patients the greatest chance of reversing damage with nonsurgical treatments. These procedures include root scaling and planing, which removes tartar and bacteria from surfaces of teeth and beneath the gums and smooths root surfaces,. Antibiotics that are either taken orally or topically as a rinse, can also be used to reduce bacteria and inflammation.
For patients with advanced periodontitis, dental surgery may be the most effective option to reduce pocket size and restore the healthy appearance and supportive structure of soft tissue.

Prevention
Periodontal disease is preventable by practicing consistent and good oral hygiene. As a rule of thumb, you should be taking between 3-5 minutes twice day to care for your teeth and gums by flossing first to loosen any food particles and bacteria, and brushing to clean all surfaces of teeth. You should also visit your dentist twice a year for thorough teeth cleanings. Patients displaying early signs of gum disease may require more frequent dental visits throughout the year.
If are exhibiting signs and symptoms of gum disease, you should contact your dentist as soon as possible. The sooner you can receive treatment, the more likely you will be able to reverse any damage caused by periodontal disease.

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The Effects Smoking Has on Your Oral Health

Tobacco and oral health

Tobacco is one of the greatest public health challenges the world faces today. Every year over 4.9 million deaths are caused by tobacco. By 2030, unless there are dramatic reductions in tobacco use, that number will rise to 10 million deaths annually. There is overwhelming evidence showing that tobacco use causes many diseases, including stroke; heart attack; chronic bronchitis; chronic cough; asthma; cold; and cancer of the lungs, throat, mouth, stomach, kidney and bladder. Half of all regular smokers die of a condition caused by smoking.

tobacco

Tobacco related diseases are increasing, especially in the developing countries which are experiencing the highest increase in the rate of tobacco use. It is estimated that tobacco will be the leading cause of death in the world by the third decade of this century, causing more deaths than HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, maternal mortality, automobile crashes, homicides and suicides combined.

Tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death in the world today. Prevention is clearly the most cost-effective measure. Tobacco control protects the rights and health of non-smokers, especially babies, children, youth and pregnant women.

The effects of tobacco use on the population’s oral health are alarming. The most significant effects of smoking on the oral cavity are: oral cancers and pre-cancers, increased severity and extent of periodontal diseases, as well as poor wound healing.

If you are a smoker coming in for preventative maintenance is even more important.  Please Call for an exam today.

J.C. Duncan Family Dentistry 103 Commerce Center Drive Suite 101 Huntersville, NC 28078 Phone: (704) 948-1300