Periodontal diseases are caused by plaque (rhymes with "back"), a sticky film that is always forming on your teeth. Plaque contains bacteria that produce harmful toxins. If teeth are not cleaned well, the toxins can irritate and inflame the gums.
Inflamed gums can pull away from the teeth and form spaces called pockets. The pockets trap plaque and bacteria which cannot be removed with brushing. The gums can become infected. If the infected pockets are not treated, the disease can get worse. The bone and other tissues that support teeth are damaged.
Brush your teeth twice a day and floss (or use another between-the-teeth cleaner) daily. If plaque stays on teeth, it can harden into a rough surface called tartar. Tartar can only be removed when teeth are cleaned at the dental office.
Periodontal disease and its link to systemic disease
Did you know that the most recent research confirms that bacteria (tiny bugs) in your mouth increase your risk of heart problems, stoke, diabetes, pre-term and low birth-weight babies, and pancreatic cancer? As you read the news, or Google the "oral systemic link" you find new links between the health of your gums and your overall health frequently being established (diseases like Alzheimer's and depression are very recently being shown to have an inflammatory link). The link for all of these diseases to your gum tissue is the inflammatory process common to all.
What is more dangerous, sky diving or bleeding gums when you brush? There are about 35 deaths every year from sky diving accidents ( a rate of about .001%). People with gum disease however, and usually undiagnosed gum disease, stand a risk 100 times greater of dying from some inflammatory mediated disease caused by periodontal disease.
Here are some more facts. More than 70% of U.S. Adults have some form of Periodontal (gum) disease. The thing is, if you ask most of your friends if they have it, most will say no. Gum disease (with the exception of its last advanced phase) has few symptoms. So many people who have Periodontal disease are not even aware of it until the disease process is much more advanced.
Also as dentists, our traditional methods of checking for gum disease only measured damage that has already occurred. Our traditional methods include measuring the depth of the "pockets" around your gums with a small probe-like ruler, checking for recession and bleeding of the gums, checking x-rays for bone levels, and seeing if teeth are already loose. But really, how many bacteria do you think can be measured with a ruler??? NONE! Again, almost all of our "traditional" methods for monitoring gum disease only measured changes which have already occurred and predict nothing at all about future risk.
This combination of minimal to no symptoms and our measuring for only past damage has resulted in many many people walking around with a chronic inflammatory condition in their mouths which is contributing to overall disease and increased risk in their entire body.
The good news is that, in our office, we are now proud to have incorporated the Phase Contrast Microscope into daily diagnostic use in our dental hygiene department. The advanced combination of microscopy and LASER decontamination when needed allow us to identify people at risk of systemic disease and treat them in the most conservative method possible. Here's how it works: the phase contrast microscope allows us to take a simple sample of plaque to ascertain the exact type of bacteria present in your mouth. While everyone has well over 500 different types of bacteria in their mouths, only a handful of them are dangerous and linked to the chronic inflammatory response that is Periodontal Disease and its systemic counterparts. Once we know what exactly is swimming in your mouth, the proper recommendations can be made. We can easily and specifically determine if you are at risk, and if so, treat promptly, conservatively, and painlessly.
Treatment for Periodontal disease is now better than ever. We can often decontaminate very deep areas without the traditional need for gum surgery. This advanced treatment allows us to get you and your mouth healthy without using a scalpel or sutures, and with minimal discomfort.
Dr. Bard J. Levey's Smile Design Studio, for the Amazingly HEALTHY smile you've always wanted. Please ask us about our advanced diagnostic and treatment options available to you.