If There Was Dental TV, This Word Would Be Bleeped — Periodontitus
- Posted on: Oct 15 2017
Your gums are easy to underestimate. They look soft and wimpy, like a cross between a wad of Double Bubble and a pink-glazed cupcake. But they are tough customers, protecting your tooth roots from being exposed.
But your gums need help from you, their owner. If you pay attention with your home dental hygiene, your gums will take care of you. Neglect them at your peril!
Periodontal disease is the medical term for gum disease, periodontitis if you want to get downright clinical. It involves infection of the gums that can end up with tooth loss and an extra spot in Duck Dynasty.
But gum disease is so preventable. It all starts with dental plaque, which is the sticky film that forms on your teeth throughout the day. The plaque has lots of bacteria in it. Dental plaque is easy to remove simply by daily brushing and flossing. In fact, a good home dental hygiene program of brushing twice daily for two minutes and flossing once a day is usually enough for most people never to have to deal with gum disease.
Ah, but there lies the rub. If you’re one of those lackadaisical brushers doing only a cursory job, and if you throw in lifestyle choices such as smoking, plaque can have its way with your mouth. When plaque isn’t removed, it hardens into calculus, also known as tartar. Tartar can only be removed by a hygienist like Beth Thompson in our office, or a dentist like Dr. Miller.
First, comes gingivitis, then comes periodontitis
You won’t wake up one day and have gum disease. There will be signs. The bacteria in plaque produce toxins that irritate the gums. Irritated gums are not happy gums, and they become red and bleed easily. Plus, the tartar that has formed gradually makes its way below the gumline, leading to more irritation. This irritation is called gingivitis.
You may have let things go, but at this point, you can still reverse things with a professional cleaning from our team and more diligent home care. But if you don’t opt for this route, the gum irritation worsens, and the gums begin to pull away from the teeth causing pockets to form. These pockets hold all the bacteria from the plaque and that bacteria begin to attack the roots of the teeth. You can see where this is leading — tooth loss and jawbone deterioration.
Now, a trip to Dr. Miller will be necessary just to keep your teeth. He’ll need to do things such as gum planing and scaling. He may need to prescribe some antibiotics if an infection has taken hold. A root canal could be required to save a tooth or teeth.
Alas, all of this could have been prevented with diligent home hygiene and twice-yearly visits to our office. It pays to pay attention to your home care and to see us regularly. Call us at 503-640-9310 to make your next appointment.
Posted in: Gum Diseases