What is gum disease?
Periodontal disease or Gum Disease as it is more commonly known, is a reaction of the body to subgingival bacteria, which act together with other factors (stress, smoking, genetic diseases). These bacteria are spread through saliva. Therefore, if one of your family members has periodontal disease, it is better for you to try to avoid the contact with his/her saliva, sharing cutlery and toothbrushes by other family members should be avoided, in order to prevent contamination with aggressive bacteria.
If you observe that any of the family members shows signs of a possible gingival or periodontal problem (gingival bleeding, redness, painful and swollen gums, bad breath), it is advisable for all family members to go for a routine check-up to detect periodontal disease.
Does periodontal disease affect general health?
Yes. Bacteria that cause periodontal disease are involved in the production of atherosclerosis (narrowing of blood vessels), high blood pressure, myocardial infarction, and there is a link between gum disease and pregnant women and premature birth or low birth weight has also been found. Pregnant women with periodontal disease have a 7 times higher risk of giving birth to premature or underweight children.
Also, gingival bleeding, bone loss around the teeth, and periodontal pockets around them can indicate the onset of diabetes. If you are diabetic, you have a very high risk of developing periodontal disease and therefore high preventive measures are needed.
Nothing hurts me. Do I have periodontal disease or not?
Periodontal disease does not hurt. Whether or not you have periodontal disease,this can only be told by your dentist in a simple consultation. The signs of a possible gum problem are: bleeding that occurs when you brush your teeth or spontaneously, unpleasant mouth odor, pain or itching of the gums.
This is a sign that gingivitis has set in, a disease that is reversible and can be completely treated by improving oral hygiene and scaling (removing the stone from the teeth).
If the inflammation persists for a long time, gingivitis develops into periodontitis, an irreversible inflammatory form, when the bone is also affected and there are additional withdrawals of the gum from the roots of the teeth, the teeth become mobile and without a specific treatment they end up losing.
There is the aggressive form, which evolves rapidly, founded especially at young people (even from 11-13 years) and there is a chronic form, which has a slower evolution and occurs at adults. Periodontal disease manifests itself in successive stages of activity and rest. When the disease is active, specific signs and symptoms are observed, but if they disappear, it does not mean that the disease has healed on its own, but is going through a period of rest and it continues to evolve, even if the bleeding or pain have disappeared.
Can it be treated?
The treatment of the disease consists in a rigorous cleaning of the pockets (spaces) formed between the gum and the tooth following a local anesthesia, using ultrasonic and manual methods, as well as the laser, and in more advanced cases surgical treatment with bone addition covering the roots or immobilizing the mobile teeth.
From the moment the treatment was successful and the periodontal disease was stopped in evolution, the patients must be evaluated periodically, especially the dental areas where they cannot achieve effective hygiene and which therefore present a risk of disease’s recurrence. The success of the treatment of periodontal disease depends, first of all, on the total cooperation of the patient, by maintaining a rigorous hygiene, not only on the experience of the dentist. Therefore, even if you have not observed clear symptoms of periodontal disease, it may be present, and its early detection by a doctor, through a routine check, can prevent tooth loss.