PERIODONTAL DISEASE: WHAT IS IT?
While many may think that cavities are the only condition that affects the oral tissues, there is a progressive condition that affects specifically the gums, and often the bone surrounding the teeth. This condition is known as periodontal disease.
In healthy gum tissue, the appearance is tight to the teeth, pink, and stippling in nature. Provocation with floss and tooth brushing shows little irritation and bleeding.
However, plaque build up accumulates on and around our teeth even minutes after our efforts in cleaning. Plaque is a cohesive film, composed primarily of residual food particles with various types of bacteria, which adhere to your teeth, even below the gum line. The bacteria that settle secrete toxins and other elements that cause the gum tissue to become red, boggy, and irritated. This natural response is the body’s way to attempt to rid those poisons, often showing bleeding around that interaction. Should the bacteria riddled plaque have extended period of time within the gum tissue, the that tissue will lose its tight attachment to the tooth creating a “pocket.” At this stage the inflamed gums are at a stage of “gingivitis” that is caused by plaque accumulation.
These new deep pockets create an ideal environment for more aggressive bacteria to thrive. Those more aggressive, differently structured, bacteria can occupy those pockets and fester around the bone that holds the teeth within the jaw. If this condition is neglected, those specific bacteria can cause the supporting bone and its attachments to the tooth to deteriorate, a process known as “periodontitis”. What is most detrimental about periodontal disease is, as it progresses, the teeth involved become looser and subsequently may be lost. It is important to point out that periodontitis is always preceded by gingivitis, however, gingivitis does not always progress to periodontitis. Treatment considerations recommended will be based on multiple factors discussed in this forum.
Unfortunately, the lost bone in true periodontal disease cannot be replaced, however the level of the bone may be maintained with proper intervention.
Recommendations may be made for a deep cleaning to reach those pockets. Removal of bacteria and plaque with proper home care may cease this degenerative process but will not recover the lost tissue. Notable systemic conditions have been correlated with the increased prevalence of periodontitis. Those include but are not limited to diabetes, heart disease/stroke, pregnancy, and osteoporosis.