What is periodontitis?

Periodontal Disease is a serious infection that can lead to tooth loss if left untreated. It is a chronic bacterial infection affecting the gums and bone surrounding the teeth. Periodontal disease occurs when Gingivitisis left untreated. Plaque can spread and grow below the gum line. Toxins are produced by the bacteria and causes the body to respond by turning on itself. The tissue and bone that supports the teeth is broken down and destroyed. Pockets form by the separation of the gums from the teeth allowing more irritants to rest there. Pockets can become larger and deepen allowing further destruction of the gum tissue and bone. If treatment is not completed the teeth can become loose and may need to be removed.

Treatment & Maintenance

Periodontitis can be treated by scaling and root planning, otherwise known as a deep cleaning. The teeth and roots are cleaned (scaled) by using different dental instruments to remove plaque, calculus (tartar), and bacteria from the pockets in order to allow healing of the inflammation and destruction that occurred within the supporting tissues of the teeth. Once this phase of treatment has been completed, pockets are re-evaluated to see how much healing has occurred. Areas that are still a concern may require additional treatment. If this is the case, an antibiotic will be placed deep into the pocket to kill any additional bacteria that may still reside in that pocket. In some extreme cases, if this additional treatment fails, a referral to a Periodontal Specialist maybe needed. If treatment is successful, the patient will be required to return to the dental office every 3-4 months for regular maintenance appointments to have a professional cleaning completed by their dentist or dental hygienist.  

Health Concerns

Mouth-Body Connection—Periodontal bacteria has been linked to other health problems. This bacteria can spread into the bloodstream and travel to the organs of the rest of the body. The following is a list of health issues that this bacteria has been linked to…

Diabetes- Diabetic patients are 3-4 times more likely to develop chronic periodontal infections which may impair their ability to utilize and/or process insulin. It is recommended that diabetic patients have regular cleanings. Studies have shown that these patients can actually improve their blood sugar levels by keeping bacteria that causes periodontal disease under control.

Heart Disease and Stroke -- Research has shown that patients with Periodontal disease are twice as likely to suffer from heart disease. Also, people who have a history of strokes are more likely to have infections in the mouth. The reason for this is because bacteria of the mouth is more likely to access the bloodstream and can travel to the organs of the body which contribute to the effects of heart disease and strokes.

Pregnancy -- Studies have been done which show that any periodontal infection during pregnancy could put a woman at a significant risk for delivering a preterm, low birthweight baby. Pregnant women are more likely to get Gingivitis due to elevated hormone levels, therefore should see their dentist for regular exams and cleanings.

Dry Mouth -- Over 400 medications have been known to cause dry mouth. The more medications that are taken, the higher the risk for dry mouth. Dry mouth can cause ongoing bad breath, cavities, and mouth infections.

Tobacco -- Tobacco impairs the body’s defense and makes individuals more susceptible to infections and the progression of periodontal disease. In addition, they are at a higher risk for developing oral cancer.

Alcohol -- Excessive alcohol consumption irritates the oral tissues and tongue. It can negatively impact healing and cause tooth decay. It has also been linked to Oral Cancer.