Many people ignore the importance of periodontal health. A healthy smile is a crucial indicator of overall health, and gingival health is one of the most critical factors. In addition, periodontal disease can compromise the success of multiple dental treatments, including fillings, crowns, veneers, dental implants and orthodontic treatments.
Oral health is not only about having perfect teeth: it also means the absence of disease in the gum tissue and all the orofacial structures that allow us to smile, chew and speak.
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Are my gums healthy?
Patients can quickly notice if their gums aren’t healthy. This soft tissue, typically pink, smooth and firm, becomes red, tender, swollen and prone to bleeding. Sometimes, this condition is accompanied by persistent bad breath, known as halitosis.
Multiple factors can cause periodontal disease, including systemic conditions, medicines and habits like smoking. However, the bacterial build-up is the most common cause (and luckily the easiest one to prevent).
The bacteria responsible for dental decay also affect this soft tissue. Bacterial build-up begins in the enamel, but if it isn’t correctly removed, it colonises the gingival sulcus, the virtual space between the tooth and the edge of the gums. Bacteria multiply while comfortably buried in the gingival sulcus, and eventually, it starts damaging the periodontal tissue. When the gums react to this attack, they become inflamed, and periodontal disease begins.
Gums disease vs Periodontal disease
Bacteria-associated periodontal disease has two stages:
- Gum disease or gingivitis: Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease. Periodontal tissues react with inflammation to the bacterial invasion, and gums become red, swollen and prone to bleeding. This condition is reversible, and the gum tissue starts healing as soon as the dental plaque is removed. However, if gingivitis is left untreated, it can progress to periodontitis (commonly known as periodontal disease), which has more severe consequences.
- Periodontal disease or periodontitis: if gum disease isn’t treated on time, it can turn into periodontal disease. In this stage, bacteria become more aggressive and start attacking the bone tissue that anchors the teeth. Once the disease has reached the bone, the scenario is entirely different. Periodontal disease cannot be reversed. Many treatments are designed to stop its progress, which is obtained by eliminating the plaque or tartar deposits causing the disease. This type of therapy is more complex and requires a strong commitment from the patient.
Periodontal disease can result in teeth loss and has also been linked to many systemic conditions like heart disease and diabetes. Stopping its progress is crucial for maintaining the overall health of our patients.
Most periodontal treatments aim to get rid of dental plaque and tartar deposits. Depending on the condition of the patient, Dr Dubal will opt between the different alternatives, which typically are:
- Dental cleanings:
Prophylactic cleanings are a good choice for those patients with gingivitis or a mild form of periodontal disease. Hygienists usually carry out this procedure in only one session.
- Periodontal therapy
This therapy involves a procedure known as SRP (scaling and root planing). It is indicated for those patients with an advanced form of periodontal disease. SRP also aims to eliminate plaque and tartar, but it mainly focuses on the deposits accumulated below the gum line. This treatment is typically performed by a specialist (periodontist) who uses ultrasonic or manual scalers and specific instruments known as periodontal curettes. This therapy sometimes needs to be aided by antibiotics.
The disease’s severity determines the treatment’s length, but the dentist usually needs a few sessions to ensure there’s no tartar o plaque left. Once the disease has been controlled, the patient enters a maintenance phase, requiring frequent check-up visits and a meticulous hygiene routine.
- Periodontal surgery:
A surgical procedure might be necessary to treat severe cases that cannot be cured with SRP and antibiotics. This treatment involves a minor surgery in which a specialist exposes the roots of the affected teeth to eliminate tartar and clean the surrounding bone tissue.
How to prevent periodontal disease
The good news is that, in most cases, periodontal disease can be easily prevented. As mentioned before, although sometimes this condition can be caused by other factors, the most frequent cause is bacterial build-up, so the best way to prevent it is by removing dental plaque:
- Brushing and flossing: oral hygiene is crucial. Brush your teeth twice daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush, and floss at least once daily. But as necessary as the frequency is to use the correct technique, ask a team member for a thorough explanation if you have any doubts about oral hygiene.
- Professional cleaning: no matter how meticulous we are, sometimes dental plaque and tartar can accumulate in areas that are hard to reach with the toothbrush. That’s why it is essential to have your teeth professionally cleaned at least once a year.
- Check-ups: last but not least, dental check-ups are also vital to maintain periodontal health. Dentists can spot early signs of periodontal disease during these examinations and stop its progression.
Periodontal health is a crucial aspect of oral health, and Dr Dubal is well aware of this. He has vast experience in periodontal treatment and is committed to finding a solution to any dental problem that might arise from this condition. Do not hesitate to schedule a consultation to check that your gums are healthy!