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Periodontology is a field of dentistry dealing with the study and treatment of the dental supportive structure (periodontium): gums, bone and fibers which connect the tooth to the bone. Periodontium stands for „around the tooth”.
Periodontium diseases are usually slow, progressive and painless in their development. 75% of the people belonging to the 35+ age group have one thing in common: at least one disease of the periodontium. After caries, periodontitis is the second most common oral cavity disease. After the age of 40, more people lose their natural teeth due to periodontitis than to caries.
The foe in our mouth is called the plaque bacteria. Plaque is a colorless cluster of bacteria which remains on teeth, crowns, bridges and other oral cavity tissues. It is the main cause of the decay of the dental supportive structure and, if not removed, it can lead to instability and falling out of teeth and decay of the jaw bone.
If your hands were bleeding every time you washed them, you would take that seriously, wouldn’t you? However, most people do not pay any special attention to the bleeding of the gums at brushing or flossing. But, beware! This is a sure indicator of the inflammation of the gums edges. This kind of inflammation is characteristic of gingivitis, which is the primary stage of periodontitis. If left untreated, the inflammation spreads to the inner layers causing the formation of the so-called gingivital pocket between the tooth and the gums. The consequences will be periodontitis as the gravest form of the dental supportive structure disease.
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Causes of periodontitis
The causes of periodontitis can be manifold, but the primary causes are poor oral hygiene and bad lifestyle habits such as smoking or teeth grinding. Some of the symptoms are as follows: inflammation and swelling of the gums, redness, receding of the gums, teeth instability, poor breath, and the sensation of an unpleasant taste in the mouth. Most people do not recognize them and consider them normal.
The presence of the plaque bacteria is necessary for the development of periodontitis. Poor oral hygiene allows it to build up on the surface of the teeth and the acids which it produces destroy the enamel and create a perfect environment for the inflammation of the dental supportive structure.
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Should it come to the appearance of periodontitis, it is necessary to seek professional advice from a dentist as soon as possible. Based on the state of progress of the disease, the dentist will determine the course of treatment and explain what the best course of action is. The therapy always commences with the removal of the tartar and plaque build-up since they are primary causes of the disease. Besides the removal of the cause, it is also necessary to perform a deep cleaning of the gingival pockets. If the disease is in an advanced stage of development, anti inflammation medicine will be prescribed and there might even be a need for a surgical removal of the diseased gums. If the treatment starts on time, the chances for a complete recovery are mainly good.
As well as with caries, maintaining a good oral hygiene is of a crucial importance since it is the best protection from periodontitis. Regular tartar and plaque removal from the surfaces of the teeth has to be left to an experienced dentist. It would be best to perform the removal twice a year in order to achieve the highest level of protection.
Frequently asked questions
1. What are the causes of periodontal disease?
Periodontitis is primarily caused by poor oral hygiene and bad lifestyle habits. Among the other significant causes are smoking and teeth grinding.
2. If I am suffering from periodontitis, will I feel any pain?
Periodontitis is a type of disease which does not cause any pain.
3. What are the symptoms of the disease?
There are numerous symptoms which could serve as periodontitis or gingivitis “alarms”. The most important are:
- Inflammation and swelling of the gums
- Receding of gums
- Instability of teeth
- Bad breath
- Sensation of an unpleasant taste in the mouth
Should you experience any of the above listed symptoms, make sure you visit a dentist right away.
4. My gums bleed when I brush. Why?
If your gums are swollen and bleed while brushing or flossing, you are probably suffering from gums inflammation. The cause for this may be gingivitis or periodontis. We strongly recommend you pay a visit to your chosen dentist.
5. What will happen if I do not treat gingivitis?
If left untreated, the inflammation may spread and cause the appearance of a gingival pocket between the tooth and the gums. The consequences will be deepening of the pocket, instability and falling out of teeth, as well as desorption (decomposition) of the supportive jaw bone.
6. Can periodontitis cause additional bad side-effects?
Research and medical studies conducted over the last several years have linked periodontitis with other health problems. The effects might be:
- Increased risk of arterial clogging and heart disease (arteriosclerosis) and can even cause the existing heart disease to get worse. If it should affect the arterial clogging, the risk of a brain stroke is increased.
- In cases with pregnant women, it can lead to premature labor. At birth, the newborn children will have lower weight than children born to women not suffering from periodontitis.
- Keeping blood sugar levels under control, especially by people suffering from diabetes, will be harder.
- Severe cases of periodontitis can, although rarely, transfer the inflammation onto the lungs via breathing canals, which could lead to infections and severe pneumonia. This is extremely important for people living in homes for elderly and disabled.
7. How often should the removal of tartar and plaque be performed?
It is advisable to perform preventive tartar and plaque cleaning at least twice a year in order to be absolutely sure that the main causes of gingivitis and periodonitits have been removed.