Periodontal, or gum, disease is a degenerative disease that attacks the gums and bones that support the teeth. It is caused when plaque and tartar build up, and begin to destroy gums and bone. Gum disease is the number one reason for tooth loss. Research has also linked it to medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Ronald K. Rich, DDS, MAGD has provided information on periodontal disease to help you improve your awareness of your oral health. If you are concerned about or notice any symptoms of gum disease, we invite you to contact our office at 281-980-2537 to make an appointment with our dentist in Sugar Land, Texas.
Signs and Symptoms of Periodontal Disease
Common signs of gum disease include:
- Easy or unexplained bleeding of your gums
- Loose teeth or other changes in your bite pattern
- New or increased spacing between teeth
- Persistent bad breath (halitosis)
- Pus around your teeth and gums
- Receding gum lines
- Red and puffy gums
- Tenderness, discomfort, or pain
If you notice any of these symptoms, we recommend that you contact Ronald K. Rich, DDS, MAGD at 281-980-2537 as soon as possible to schedule an appointment and begin treatments.
Periodontal Disease and Diabetes
The connection between gum disease and diabetes is well documented. People who suffer from diabetes are more susceptible to developing gum disease. In fact, gum disease is frequently considered to be the sixth complication of diabetes, especially in circumstances where diabetes is not under control. Experts suggest that the connection between these two conditions can cause both diabetes and gum disease to worsen if either condition is not properly controlled and treated.
Links between diabetes and periodontal disease are found in:
- Increased blood sugar – moderate and severe gum disease elevates sugar levels in the body. This is why diabetics with gum disease often have difficulty keeping control of their blood sugar. Additionally, the higher sugar levels in the mouths of diabetics feed the bacteria that cause gum disease.
- Thickening of blood vessels – Diabetes causes blood vessels to become too thick to perform their normal functions of delivering nutrients and removing waste products. This means that harmful waste remains in the mouth, weakening the resistance of gum tissue and leading to infection and gum disease.
- Smoking – Tobacco causes enormous damage to your oral health. It slows the healing process, and greatly increases your chances of developing periodontal disease. Diabetics who also smoke are twenty times more likely to develop periodontal disease.
- Poor oral hygiene – Diabetics must maintain excellent levels of oral health. If daily brushing and flossing do not occur, harmful oral bacteria ingest excess sugar in the mouth, and colonize more freely below the gum line.
Periodontal Disease, Heart Disease, and Stroke
Research indicates that those who suffer from gum disease are nearly twice as likely to also suffer from heart disease. Studies have also discovered that oral infection is a risk factor in a stroke.
There are several factors that help to explain the link between heart disease, stroke, and gum disease. These factors include:
- Oral bacteria affect the heart – There are many different strains of periodontal bacteria. Some of these strains can enter the bloodstream and attach to the fatty plaques in the heart blood vessels, contributing to clot formation and causing serious danger to the individual in question.
- Inflammation – Periodontal disease causes severe inflammation in the gum tissue, elevating the white blood cell count and high sensitivity C-reactive protein levels. Elevated levels of these proteins are linked to heart disease.
- Infectious susceptibility – Individuals who experience high levels of oral bacteria may have weaker immune systems and an inadequate host inflammatory response. This may induce specific vascular effects that have been known to contribute to the onset of heart disease.
Gum disease is diagnosed by our dentist during a periodontal examination. This exam should always be part of your regular dental checkup.
Our dentist will measure pocket depths (the space between the tooth and gums), the amount of bleeding, inflammation, and tooth mobility to determine if you have periodontal disease, and which stage the disease is at.
There are three stages of gum disease:
- Gingivitis – the first stage of periodontal disease. Gums are tender, inflamed, and likely to bleed.
- Periodontis – Plaque in your mouth hardens into calculus, also known as tartar. Gums begin to recede from the teeth, and deeper pockets form and become filled with bacteria and puss. Gums are very irritated, inflamed and bleed easily. Slight to moderate bone loss may occur.
- Advanced Periodontis – Gums, bone, and periodontal ligament continue to be destroyed, causing teeth to lose more support. Affected teeth will become very loose, and may even be lost. Moderate to severe bone loss may occur.
Gum disease treatment depends of the type and severity of the disease. Dr. Ronald K. Rich and our dental hygienist will evaluate your condition and recommend an appropriate treatment.
If the disease is caught in the early stages, our dentist may recommend regular cleanings, and provide you with instructions on how to improve your daily oral hygiene habits and on having regular dental cleanings.
If the disease has progressed to a more advanced stage, a special periodontal cleaning may be recommended. Scaling and root planing is a deep cleaning treatment, and is performed in one quadrant of your mouth at a time, while the area is numb. This procedure involves removing plaque, tartar, and toxins from above and below the gum line, and smoothing the rough spots on your tooth. Scaling and root planing help gum tissue to heal and pockets to shrink. Our dentist may also recommend medications, special mouth rinses, and electric toothbrushes to help control infection and promote healing.
If you continue to suffer from gum disease following scaling and root planing treatment, you may need to undergo periodontal surgery to reduce pocket depths. Our dentist may also recommend that you visit a Periodontist, a dentist who specializes in gums and the supporting bone.
An important part of controlling gum disease is properly maintaining your teeth. It only takes 24 hours for plaque to turn into tartar. Daily home cleaning helps control plaque and tartar, but the hard-to-reach areas of your mouth will always need special attention.
When you have completed your periodontal treatment, our dentist will likely recommend that you receive regular cleanings four times a year to maintain healthy gums. At these cleanings, we will measure your pocket depths to ensure that your gums are remaining healthy, and remove any buildups of plaque and calculus.
In addition to cleaning and evaluation of your teeth and gums, these appointments will include:
- Examination of diagnostic x-rays
- Examination of existing restorations
- A check of all surfaces for decay
- Oral cancer screening
- Teeth polishing
- Review and recommendations of oral hygiene
If you have any questions or concerns about gum disease in Sugar Land, Texas, feel free to contact Ronald K. Rich, DDS, MAGD at 281-980-2537. Our experienced dentist and team are prepared to help you!