‘Odontal’ means teeth and ‘peri’ means around so periodontal disease are those diseases which affects the structures around the teeth. These structures include the nonvisible inner parts like the periodontal ligament, cementum covering the tooth, the alveolar bone and the outermost visible parts that are the gums. The mild form of the periodontal disease in which only gum is affected is known as gingivitis but the serious infection can cause the other parts to become affected and is known as periodontitis which can lead to the tooth loss. The infection can be caused by the bacteria building up there due to poor oral hygiene.
Symptoms of Periodontal Disease
The signs and symptoms depend upon the seriousness of the infection. The normal gums are pale pink in color and tightly adhered to the gum. So, signs and symptoms of
Mild infection also known as gingivitis are
- Swollen and reddened gums
- Bleed easily during brushing or flossing
- Pain upon touching the gums
- Bad breath
More severe infection also known as periodontitis are
- Loosened gums
- Teeth are becoming loose
- Chewing is painful
- Building up of pus between the teeth and gums
Causes of Periodontal Disease
The most common cause is building of the plaque, if left untreated the bacteria can cause the infection starting from gingivitis and ending at the periodontitis
Building of plaques: plaque is a sticky deposit on the teeth in which bacteria proliferates. It can be removed daily by brushing and flossing daily.
Formation of tartar: if the plaque is not removed regularly then it converts itself into the tartar which cannot be removed by just brushing and flossing. You need to take the help of the dentist. Tartar gives rise to more and more problems.
Gingivitis: the above formed tartar can easily progress to the gingivitis which is the mildest form of the periodontal disease. The bacteria cause inflammation of the gums. It can be treated easily and progression of the periodontal disease can easily be stopped at this stage.
Periodontitis: The inflammation caused by the plaque can widen the spaces between the teeth and the gums and the deeper parts of the tissue can easily be affected. It can easily lead to pus formation
Risk factors for Periodontal Disease
Though the plaque formation is crucial for the periodontal disease but some factors are responsible for the fast progression of the disease and includes
- Poor oral hygiene
- Smoking or tobacco chewing
- Hormonal changes of the pregnancy
- Older ages
- Decreased functioning of the immune system in illnesses like AIDS, leukemia
- Certain drugs
- Poor nutrition
Complications of Periodontal Disease
It depends upon the form of the periodontal disease you are suffering from. The complications of the periodontitis include
Trench mouth: it is very severe form of gingivitis characterized by painful ulcerations with death of the cells. It is also known as the Necrotizing Ulcerative Gingivitis(NUG)
Tooth loss: the ongoing infection can loosen the structure around the teeth and thus loosen the tooth. The loosened tooth needs to be extracted
Sepsis: The bacteria can evade the bloodstream and disseminate to the other organs of the body, thus leading to the systemic infection characterized by drop in blood pressure, fever or other symptoms
Diagnosis of Periodontal Disease
Your dentist will use your medical history and conduct a dental examination to make a diagnosis
Medical history: your dentist will ask you certain questions about your eating, personal or brushing habits that will help to suspect the risk factor.
Dental examination: The dentist will look upon the conditions of the mouth. He or she will check for the presence of plaques or tartar
- Conditions of the gum like bleeding, swelling
- Pocket depth, it is the space between the gum and the tooth. Normally it is 1-3 mm but more than this means that there is some problem and the severity of the disease depends directly upon the depth of the pocket
- Conditions of the jaw bone
- Alignment of the teeth and their movement
Dental x-rays can be used to look up for the conditions of the bone
Treatment of Periodontal Disease
The goal of the treatment is to stop the progression of the disease, promoting the reattachment of the gums to the teeth, maintaining the good oral hygiene, decreasing the depths of the pockets. Treatment includes
Nonsurgical treatment: for mild periodontal disease like gingivitis, there is no need of any surgery. Simple removal of the plaque or tartar and maintenance of the oral hygiene is enough like
- Scaling: it is the procedure by which plaque and the tartar is removed from the surface of the tooth by the help of laser, ultrasonic devices or even simple instruments
- Antibiotics: the antibiotics will act against the bacteria. They can be given orally or topically applied to the affected parts of the gums.
Surgical treatment: it is required in the severe periodontal disease in which the infection has reached to the deeper layers. It includes
- Flap surgery: it is also called as pocket reduction surgery because this method reduces the pocket size. Tiny incisions are made on the gum to lift up a flap which exposes the root. Now scaling can be done to remove the tartar which is not visible from the surface
- Bone grafting: when the periodontal disease is so severe that it has destroyed the bone surrounding it, then a bony graft can be put in the place of that which will hold the tooth in the position
Prevention of Periodontal Disease
You can avoid this disease and its simple complications by just adopting some preventive measures like
- Brushing teeth twice a day to remove the plaque formed
- Regular flossing
- Regular dental visits
- Avoiding the risk factors such as smoking, stress or poor diet.