|Gum disease is
a chronic condition, which is caused by the bacteria in the mouth.
The end result of gum disease is tooth loss, and all persons are susceptible.
Gum disease is much like diabetes, in that once a person develops
the illness, they will have it for the rest of their life. Whether
it progresses, causes any long-term affect such as tooth loss depends
on how well it is controlled. The best prevention is to avoid ever
developing gum problems, and if it is too late, to keep the gums as
healthy as possible.
|How does it develop
Teeth are held
in place by a socket of bone around each tooth. The teeth are suspended
by ligaments which connect the tooth to the bone. Gum tissue covers
the bone and the first part of the root surface.
eat, plaque bacteria grow and release by-products of metabolism,
which is irritating to the gum tissue. The gums respond by becoming
red, puffy and swollen. At this point they may bleed when we brush
and sometimes will also be sore. If the teeth are brushed and cleaned
thoroughly, the plaque is easily removed and gum health will return.
However, within a few hours, the minerals naturally found in saliva
will deposit in the plaque and it will form a very hard material
called calculus or tartar. This tartar is even more damaging to
the gum tissue in that it cannot be removed by brushing or flossing,
and it often builds up in areas underneath the gums which are very
difficult to reach.
then progresses to the next level at which the bone around the teeth
is irritated. This results in the bone "shrinking" or
resorbing. In later stages the gums will also "shrink"
as bone is lost. This bone loss creates very deep spaces called
periodontal pockets which traps even greater amounts of plaque and
tartar. The progression of the disease now speeds up and reaches
a more serious level. If enough bone and gum tissue has been lost
the roots will become exposed, the teeth may become sensitive and
will begin to look longer. In later stages, a patient may notice
his/her teeth either shifting or becoming loose. Unfortunately,
by the time this has occurred, about 50% or more bone has already
important point to understand is that once bone is lost it is lost
forever. Once gum disease begins, it changes the environment in
the mouth and it can and will progress. The only way to stop its
progression is to change your routine between home care and possibly
your dental visits and dental care.
|How can I prevent or
prevention is to brush and floss your teeth daily. Brushing will
remove any plaque on the outside surfaces of the teeth, and flossing
will remove that which builds up between the teeth. Toothbrushes
do not reach areas between the teeth, so if you do not floss, you
are not cleaning all around your teeth thoroughly.
The second step
is to visit your dentist regularly. Dentists and hygienists are
trained to look for the earliest signs of gum disease, and can remove
any calculus that has built up underneath or around the gums. This
calculus cannot be removed by simply brushing, so it is vital that
each of us has a professional cleaning done in a dental office.
How often we
need to go depends on the overall health of our gums, how well we
clean our teeth between visits and how much calculus we build up.
Most children and adults do well with a visit and cleaning every
six months, however, those with current problems may need to be
seen every three or four months. Your dental professionals are the
best ones to advise you how often you need to have professional
cleaning in order to maintain your gum health.
note, in the recent past many dental insurance companies
are paying for fewer cleanings (i.e. every nine to twelve months)
in order to cut costs and maintain profits. Beware, they
do not know the condition of your mouth or gums and they do
not have your best interests in mind. Please follow the
advice of your dental professionals as we are here to advise and
help you on the best quality care. If you accept less than what
is recommended by us or your dentist in order to "stay within
your plan" and save minor short term costs, you will have greater
and more expensive problems in the future. Whether it results in
decay, tooth loss, loss of fillings, crowns, bridges or implants,
prevention and stopping problems early is always a less expensive
and simpler solution.
|What if my gum disease
is already severe?
thorough cleaning will improve a persons' gum problems significantly
so that it can be later maintained with routine care. In other cases,
periodontal pockets have been created that makes it impossible to
stop the progression of the diseases without gum surgery. Some teeth
may have to be removed for the sake of keeping those that can be saved.
Missing teeth can be replaced with partial dentures, bridges or implants.
Much of the above treatment can be done in our office however, the
severity of your disease may necessitate referring you to a periodontist
who specializes in the treatment of gum disease. We have relationships
with several excellent periodontists that we can recommend should
it be necessary.
2001 - 2013 Dr. Peter A Balogh Inc. All rights reserved.