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Gum (Periodontal) Disease

Gum (Periodontal) disease is an infection of the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth. It is a major cause of tooth loss in adults but oftentimes goes unnoticed because it tends to be painless. If your gums are unusually tender and red or if flossing causes your gums to bleed, you may be suffering from periodontal disease.

Gum disease is caused by an excessive build-up of plaque on the teeth.

As the plaque hardens into tartar, toxins are released from the bacteria causing the gums to become irritated. In the early stages of periodontal disease, called gingivitis, the gums are red and tender but the disease is still reversible and can be eliminated by daily brushing and flossing and regular visits to your dentist.

Advances in drugs have also helped control periodontal disease: For specific problem areas we place Arestin® (minocycline HCl 1 mg) which is an effective antibiotic treatment that is placed inside the infected gums after regular scaling and root planing.

For generalized gum disease we treat our patients with Periostat®. Periostat® (Doxycycline Hyclate 20mg) is an oral medication that is taken twice a day. Periodontitis is the end result of a complex interaction between the bacteria (or plaque) that accumulate on tooth surfaces and your own body’s efforts to fight this bacterial infection.

When there are high levels of bacteria in the spaces between your teeth and gums, enzymes are released by your own body’s defense mechanism to fight the bacteria. These enzymes can destroy gum tissue and bone that support your teeth. Periostat® is the only medication that suppresses these enzymes, and thereby reducing tissue damage.

Gum Surgery

When periodontitis progresses deep enough in the gum and tooth, a specialist called a periodontal surgeon sometimes needs to perform surgery to repair the gum. He or she uses various surgical techniques to repair the damage. Surgery may be done on soft tissue or bone to help the healing process.

Factors causing periodontal disease:

  • Plaque

  • Smoking/tobacco use

  • Pregnancy and puberty

  • Stress

  • Medications

  • Clenching or grinding your teeth

  • Diabetes

  • Poor nutrition

  • Systemic diseases

  • Genetics

Smoking increases your chances of developing gum disease

As a smoker, you are more likely than non-smokers to have tartar form on your teeth, have deeper pockets between your teeth and gums, and lose more of the bone and tissue that support your teeth. Research shows that smokers lose more teeth than non-smokers. Smoking causes constriction of blood vessels in the mouth area and does not let the body fight off periodontal disease as well.

Your Heart and Peridontal disease

Healthy hearts and healthy gums play vital roles in maintaining a healthy body. Because periodontal disease is a bacterial infection, periodontal disease can enter the blood stream and travel to major organs and begin new infections. The heart is one of the most susceptible organs. People with periodontal disease may become more at risk for heart disease and have nearly twice the risk of having a fatal heart attack.

Diabetes increases your risk of having Periodontal disease

Periodontal disease may make it more difficult for people who have diabetes to control their blood sugar. Severe periodontal disease can increase blood sugar, contributing to increased periods of time when the body functions with high blood sugar. Controlling periodontal disease may help the diabetic control their diabetes.

How can I prevent periodontal (gum) disease?

The good news is that you can help prevent periodontal (gum) disease by taking good care of your teeth every day and having regular dental checkups. Brush your teeth well twice a day and floss between your teeth everyday. Eat a well-balanced diet and visit your dentist regularly.