Gingivitis and Periodontitis

September 21, 2008

Have you noticed blood on your toothbrush as you brush in the morning? Is your gum reddish and tender to the touch?

We hear and read a lot about health care everyday. Most of it deals with the well being of our heart, kidney or over all health. Finally, what is left is our oral cavity. We neglect our oral health- the mouth, the tooth and the gums for nearly 12 hours after brushing once in the morning.

Your dental health is dependent on your gums. The gums may get infected by bacterial growth that can gradually destroy the tissue surrounding and supporting the teeth. And any damage to your gums may cost you your teeth and perhaps the prettiest of smiles. Gingivitis and Periodontitis are the most commonly found periodontal (gum) diseases. At least 70-80% of Americans are troubled by some kind of Gingivitis. And some types of gingivitis advance into Periodontitis, a more serious condition. Periodontitis is a gum infection that can eventually lead to tooth loss if neglected or left untreated. Untreatable Periodontitis often calls for surgery.

Gingivitis is mild and may give the patient little or no discomfort. Gum disease is caused by the buildup of dental plaque resulting from natural bacteria in the mouth. As it builds up it destroys the bone and eventually the tooth. In some, a deficiency of B or C is the cause for gum disease while in some others it is due to genetic factors or heredity. The use of tobacco, administration of certain drugs , health conditions like diabetes or hormonal changes can also contribute to Periodontitis. More commonly, Periodontitis may develop due to poor or inadequate oral hygiene along with low immunity.It may occur to some women during pregnancy too.

Some of the signs of gum disease are:

  • # red, swollen or tender gums
  • # bleeding gums during brushing
  • # gums that have pulled away from the teeth making your teeth look longer
  • # persistent mouth odor
  • # bad taste in your mouth
  • # pus between the teeth and gums
  • # new spaces developing between teeth
  • # loose teeth

Gum disease starts as an inflammation or infection of the gums with the gums bleeding as you brush. Many people do not neglect their dental health but are not aware of their infection until it manifests in the form of inflamed or bleeding gums. The condition seems to appear and disappear periodically in a few of those affected. Your Periodontist will need to run an X-ray to find the depth of the damage it has caused to your bone and teeth. You may notice loosening of teeth and shift in the position of teeth in people in the advanced stage of Periodontitis.

It is important to seek immediate medical advice to reverse such damage. Gingivitis is a preventable and treatable medical condition. Right treatment at the right time and the practice of good oral hygiene at home can treat periodontitis effectively. Doctors may advice scaling and root planing at this stage which would get rid of the tartar and the bacteria build up in the mouth. Root planing will further prevent any possible tartar by smoothing the surfaces. Antibiotics will take of the rest of the infection.

If the condition is advanced and not responding to the nonsurgical treatments your periodontist may suggest

  • Bone grafting
  • Soft tissue grafts
  • Flap surgery
  • Guided tissue regeneration

The best way to prevent Periodontitis is to practice good oral hygiene. Choose a suitable toothbrush with the help of your dentist. Clean your teeth after each snack or meal. Brush and floss regularly. At last not the least, eat a healthy and balanced diet.

Flash a beautiful smile!

-Aparna K V

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