Health Concerns - Gum / Periodontal Desease
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What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease is the leading cause in the United States United States and may be related to an increased risk for heart disease. Periodontal disease is essentially an infection of the teeth, gums and surrounding bone. The three stages of periodontal disease include gingivitis, periodontitis, and advanced periodontitis.

A sticky film of food and bacteria forms daily on teeth and is referred to as plaque. If not removed daily, it can harden and form tartar. This plaque and tartar formation can lead to inflammation and infection of the gums and is called gingivitis. As the inflammation continues, the gums pull away from the tooth and allow ‘pockets’ to form which allow more bacteria and food debris to enter. As this process continues, bacterial toxins can cause loss of the supporting bone around teeth. Incidentally, these sulfur containing toxins are also responsible for some forms of bad breath. This condition is referred to as periodontitis. If not treated the periodontitis will cause further bone loss and teeth will begin to become loose. This stage is defined as advanced periodontitis.

Periodontal disease and heart disease
Recent studies have shown that individuals with severe gum disease are four times more likely to suffer from coronary heart disease.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota recently reported that periodontal disease can creates an entrance for plaque bacteria to enter the bloodstream. These bacteria, called streptococcus sanguis, may cause blood clots that can block your arteries and even trigger a heart attack.

Other studies have shown that plaque bacteria entering the bloodstream through infected gums may also cause a potentially fatal heart condition called infective endocarditis.

What is the treatment for Periodontal Disease?
Even teeth that look healthy can be hiding pockets where bone is being destroyed. To evaluate for hidden gum disease your dentist may recommend x-rays and periodontal probing. Periodontal disease usually involves several teeth and may effect all of them.

If the pockets are 5mm or less your dentist may suggest a treatment involving special scaling of your teeth over several visits. This approach consists of education in personal oral hygiene techniques in order to insure a healthy environment for healing, followed by a series of regular and deeper cleanings to remove contamination above and below the gum line including the root of the teeth. At the completion of this treatment, the dentist will reprobe your gums to evaluate the results. If the pockets decrease to a depth of 1-3mm, the periodontitis may be under control.

If your pockets are in excess of 6mm (advanced periodontitis) your dentist may recommend surgery. Your dentist may perform the procedure or refer you to a gum specialist called a periodontist. The surgical procedure is performed to remove diseased tissue and allow the dentist to thoroughly clean the tooth structure. This makes it more difficult for plaque and calculus to accumulate. If the disease has caused a defect in the bone, your dentist may reshape the area or perform a bone graft procedure.

You can reduce your risk of periodontal disease by daily brushing, flossing and regular dental exams. Following periodontal treatment, patient compliance in maintaining excellent oral hygiene is essential. More frequent professional cleanings can help reduce the likelihood of the disease ever returning.

The information provided by MenopauseRx, Inc. is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health-care provider. Please consult your health-care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.