Gum Disease and Your Health

Did you know that the mouth is the dirtiest place in your body?

Flossing reduces the risk of gingivitis (swollen gum tissue), and periodontal disease (damage to the bone and connective tissue supporting the teeth) by removing the bacteria that settle in between the teeth. The normal human mouth harbours 400 species of bacteria, causing gingivitis and localized bleeding, which can eventually lead to periodontitis. Researchers recently determined that periodontal disease can escalate health problems in distant areas of the body.

What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal Disease is sometimes called gum disease. It is a serious chronic infection that attacks both the gums and the bone that hold your teeth in place. It can in some cases lead to tooth loss. It has both active and quiet phases and is one of the most prevalent diseases around the world. Almost every adult will suffer from it in some shape or form.

How is Periodontal Disease caused?

Periodontal Disease is mainly caused by bacterial plaque which is the white sticky film that consistently forms on all surfaces of your teeth. These bacteria attach themselves to both the surface of the tooth and at the gum line, once attached they can multiply and release toxins. These toxins then cause an inflammatory response which can lead to periodontal breakdown causing destruction of both the gums and the supporting bone.

How is It Detected?

Every person should be aware of tell-tale signs in their own mouth, such gums bleeding during brushing, bad breath, sore gums, gum recession and staining of teeth, or at worst loose teeth! People who experience any of these signs and symptoms should make an appointment with their dentist for a check-up.

Medical Conditions Linked to Periodontal Disease

Heart attack and Stroke:

Patients with Periodontal Disease are twice as likely to suffer a fatal heart attack and nearly three times as likely to suffer a stroke as those without periodontal disease. This association is especially evident in patients under 50 years of age.

Bacterial Infection and Diabetes:

It has been well established that Diabetes predisposes patients to bacterial infections, including those affecting the oral cavity. Recent studies provide evidence that periodontal disease can make diabetes worse, as diabetics with severe periodontal disease have greater difficulty maintaining normal blood-sugar levels. Dental researchers now recommend that periodontal inflammation can be treated and eliminated in all diabetic patients in order to significantly reduce the risk of injury to the retina (eye) and arteries. Such treatment often leads to reduce need for insulin.

Pneumonia and other Respiratory diseases:

Pneumonia occurs when bacteria dwelling in the oral cavity and throat are inhaled into the lungs where immune system defences fail to fight them. Some bacteria that cause pneumonia thrive in infected tissues of patients with periodontal disease.

Premature Birth

There is increasing evidence that infections in the mouth have a direct link to inducing premature labour. In one study researchers found that mothers of prematurely born babies were seven times more likely to have advanced periodontal disease, as mothers whose babies were born at normal birth weight.

Other Infections

Patients with Artificial heart valves and joints are at an increased risk of suffering a serious infection when periodontal bacteria enter the blood stream. In patients with an artificial heart valve, the infection can be fatal unless promptly and aggressively treated with antibiotics.

Oral Examination at the Dentist

As part of your comprehensive oral examination if there are any indications of Periodontal disease, (during which x-rays may be taken), the patient is referred to one of our Dental Hygienists for in Initial Periodontal Assessment.

What’s involved in the Periodontal Assessment?

The Hygienist will carry out some screenings. These include

  • Detailed periodontal evaluation. A periodontal probe is used to accurately record six measurements around each tooth. This determines the gum health of each individual tooth.

  • Bleeding Score evaluation.

  • Recession Score evaluation.

  • Assessment of your level of homecare.

  • Periodontal disease Education.

What’s involved in Active Periodontal Therapy?

  • Ultra-sonic scaling and hand scaling of teeth in order to remove the Tartar, plaque and toxins attached to the various surfaces of the teeth. Depending on the severity of the disease several visits may be required. Sometimes the Hygienist will administer local anaesthetic prior to scaling.

  • Oral Hygiene Instruction

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My Peridontal treatment is complete, what happens next?

After the completion of periodontal therapy healing will take place, this takes approximately eight weeks and it is within this period that your level of homecare must be at 100% to prevent the build-up of plaque bacteria and toxins in the periodontal pocket.

Do I need to see the Hygienist again?

Yes, following your periodontal therapy it is essential that you attend the Hygienist for regular maintenance visits usually every 3 months depending upon the severity of the disease. These maintenance visits are as important as the initial treatment as vulnerable sites can be re-assessed and oral hygiene and home care tips can be reiterated

Flossing:

Are you resistant to flossing every day?

Have a hard time fitting it in or remembering to do it?

Do you dislike the task just enough to avoid it until something is stuck between your teeth?

If you knew you could avoid some potentially serious health issues and save time with your dentist, would you be willing to invest less than 3 minutes per day?

Regular flossing saves time, money and time spent in the Dentist’s chair