Gum Disease (Periodontal disease) is a widespread condition which is often slow moving and hard to detect outside a professional dental setting. It affects bone encompassing teeth and causes it to degrade. It is a higher cause of tooth loss than even dental decay. In many cases it is not painful and goes unnoticed until the dentist makes you mindful of it. More than 75% of Canadians have some incidence of gum disease and there are connections between gum disease and other conditions. St. Lawrence Dentistry will check for signs of periodontal disease and would like to make you aware of what can be done to address this prevalent dental condition.
Periodontal disease is an umbrella term for both gingivitis and periodontitis. They are both perpetual bacterial infections which can affect one tooth or many teeth. Gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontal disease and causes the gum to become red, edematous, and hemorrhage easily. There is usually little or no discomfort and is often caused by inadequate oral hygiene. It is reversible with dental treatment and good oral home care. At the early stages of gum disease plaque (bacterial film) that exists around a tooth solidifies into calculus (tartar). As plaque and calculus start to build up, the gums begin to subside from the teeth and pockets form between the gum and the tooth. At this stage it is fully reversible with conservative treatments. As gum disease advances the gums recede further, wrecking more bone and around the root. Eventually the teeth involved may become mobile and may need to be removed.
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Untreated gingivitis can advance to periodontitis which is a condition causing bone destruction. With time plaque can spread and grow below the gum line. Poisons produced by the bacteria in plaque can irritate the gums and stimulate inflammation which aggravates and degrades the bone. As the disease progresses more tooth and gum are demolished. It can start out with very mild symptoms and eventually lead to loss of teeth. Up to 30% of people may be genetically more vulnerable to gum disease. Even with good oral care habits, these people may be 6 times more likely to develop bone loss around their teeth. Early interceptive treatment is key in this circumstance. During your visit to St. Lawrence Dentistry, Dr. Hawryluk will review your dental and medical history with you and will do a complete dental exam and determine if you have any signs of gum disease.
Research indicates periodontal disease can contribute to an elevated predisposition to heart attack or stroke. This is because the bacteria found in dental plaque contribute to coronary artery disease. People with gum disease are two times more likely to endure a fatal heart attack and three times more likely to suffer a stroke compared to individuals without this gum ailment. A connection also exists between periodontal disease and diabetes in that gum disease can hamper our body’s ability to control blood sugar levels. Diabetes can cause our blood vessels to thicken and that reduces the flow of nutrients to our gums and slows the evacuation of harmful waste products.
There are a number of warning signs of gum disease which include the following:
- Red swollen or painful gums
- Bleeding while brushing and flossing
- Loose or separating teeth
- Pus between the gums or teeth
- Persistent bad breath
- A change in the way your teeth fit together
Your bone and gums should fit cozily around your teeth. When you have gum disease the supporting bone and gums is destroyed forming ‘pockets’ around the teeth. Over time the pockets can become deeper which provides a larger space for bacteria to be harbored resulting in an escalation of bone loss. To retain your teeth for your whole life you must expel all the plaque from your dentition every day with proper brushing and flossing. Frequent professional cleaning at St Lawrence Dentistry will remove tartar from places where you cannot reach with the floss. Use a delicate bristled tooth brush that will minimize trauma to your gums. Devices such as Water Pik are great but will only remove plaque if they are used in conjunction with brushing. Our friendly dental hygienists can introduce you to other devices such as interproximal brushes, interdental cleaners, and tongue scrapers which all aid in removing plaque.
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If you have neglected your teeth for a long time chances are some permanent irreversible damage has happened. Once St. Lawrence Dentistry has gotten bacteria in your mouth under control and your mouth returns health, repair of any dental recession damage can be done.
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The uplifting news about gum ailments is that in most cases St. Lawrence Dentistry can help you arrest bone loss, gum recession, and prevent further damage from occurring. Please call us if you would like an appointment to discuss this important topic.
Reference: The Patients Guide to Dentistry