Although our teeth are encased in bone, the periodontium (fibrous covering over the root of the tooth) actually supports it in function and rest.
Disease of the periodontium is called periodontal disease. This leads to bone destruction and tooth loss over time.
Periodontal disease can affect anyone and sometimes it is not even symptomatic, which can lead to severe bone loss before the disease is detected. Regular dental check-ups can help detect periodontal disease in its early stages and counter it.
How does periodontal disease occur?
Our teeth are covered by a film of bacteria called “plaque”. The bacteria in plaque produces toxins over time, which if undisturbed causes inflammation and irritation of your gums.
Healthy gums surround teeth like a cuff, but when your gums are inflamed, they pull away from your teeth, which gives rise to “pockets” between your teeth and gums.
Pockets are perfect for food lodgment and bacterial invasion, which over time leads to bone destruction and loss of support of the tooth. This causes teeth to become mobile in their sockets and fall out.
You can prevent this by regularly brushing your teeth and flossing between them daily. This removes plaque and prevents periodontal disease. If plaque is allowed to sit undisturbed for a few days, it calcifies into a mass called “calculus” or “tartar”. Although plaque can be removed by simple tooth-brushing, removal of calculus requires a visit to the dental office.
Symptoms of Periodontal Disease:-
Bleeding gums, especially at the time of tooth-brushing or flossing.
Swollen and bright red gums
Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
Pus exuding from your teeth
Change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
Change in the fit of denture
Checking for Periodontal Disease:-
1. The color and consistency of your gums is first assessed by your dentist.
2. A periodontal probe (instrument) is used to measure the depth of the pockets around your teeth. If the pockets are very deep, it means you have advanced periodontal disease.
3. Dental x-rays to determine amount of bone loss.
Oral Hygiene Practices for Healthy Gums:-
Brush with a fluoridated toothpaste twice a day for at least 2 minutes each time.
Floss between your teeth.
Use other oral hygiene aids, like mouthwashes. These are usually prescribed by your dentist as added measures.
Have a good diet
Don’t smoke or chew tobacco
Get your teeth cleaned by your dentist regularly.
Managing Periodontal Disease
“Gingivitis” is the mildest form of periodontal disease, which presents as swollen, red and bleeding gums. But this condition can be easily reversed by following good oral hygiene practices.
“Periodontitis” is a more advanced form of periodontal disease. It involves bone and tissue destruction.
Scaling and Root Planing is done to treat periodontitis.
Scaling is the procedure by which calculus and tartar are removed from around your teeth.
Root planing smoothens the surfaces of exposed roots of your teeth, thus allowing the periodontium to reattach to it.
Antibiotics can be directly placed in the pockets after scaling and root planing to aid in healing. Medication for pain relief and anti-inflammation can also be prescribed.
All dentists are trained to detect periodontal disease and treat it. But sometimes you may be referred to a periodontist who specializes in this field.