Causes of Periodontal Disease

Gum Disease: Serious But Treatable

Periodontal Disease is an infection of the teeth, gums, and bone surrounding the teeth. If you neglect to brush, floss, and stimudent regularly, plaque hardens and becomes more difficult to remove. Bacteria creates deeper spaces between teeth and gums leading to more serious complications that result in tooth and bone loss.

Periodontal or gum disease is a major cause of tooth loss.

Warning Signs are:
1- Bleeding gums
2- Red, swollen gums
3- Tender gums
4- Pus between teeth and gums when pressing gums
5- Persistent bad bread
6- Bad taste in mouth
7- Permanent teeth that are loose
8- Change in the way your teeth fit together when biting
9- Changes in fit of partial dentures

Causes of Periodontal Disease
1- Plaque in the mouth
2- Bacteria in the mouth
3- Toxins in the mouth
4- Calculus
5- Tartar

Even when you brush and clean everyday, you may not completely remove plaque, especially around the gum line. Plaque that is not removed can harden into calculus or tartar. This can only be removed in the dental office. Tartar under the gumline creates conditions that lead to inflammation and infection.

Gum tissue is not attached to each tooth. A v shaped groove called the sulcus between teeth and healthy gums should be no more than three millimeters. If you have periodontal disease, this space develops into a pocket. If the disease is severe, the greater the dept of the pockets.

Periodontitis occurs when toxins destry the tissues that anchor teeth into bone. Then the gums detach from teeth and form pockets. Your tooth rots become susceptible to decay and sensitive to cold and touch. Usually tartar will form below the gums; this will inhibit the reattachment of gum tissue to the teeth. This creates a condition that delays healing and causes inflammation.

If much ligament and bone are destroyed, the tooth becomes unstable and it is loose in its socket. Eventually the tooth falls out or requires extraction.

Dental x-rays can be used to evaluate bone supporting the teeth.

If periodontal disease is present, Dr. Jeffrey Singer will recommend some of the following treatments for the problem: a thorough cleaning, scaling, tooth root planning, bite adjustment, gum surgery, bone surgery, grafts, splints, appliances for stabilization.

Factors that increase periodontal disease risk are smoking, chewing tobacco, malocclusion (misaligned teeth), fillings that are defective, clenching, grinding, poor diet, systemic diseases, steroids, cancer therapy drugs, some calcium channel blockers, oral contraceptives, other medications.

Periodontal (gum) disease, which is also known as periodontal disease and periodontitis, is a progressive disease which if left untreated may result in tooth loss.  Gum disease begins with the inflammation and irritation of the gingival tissues which surround and support the teeth.  The cause of this inflammation is the toxins found in plaque which cause an ongoing bacterial infection.

The bacterial infection colonizes in the gingival tissue and deep pockets form between the teeth and the gums.  If treated promptly by a periodontist, the effects of mild inflammation (known as gingivitis) are completely reversible.  However, if the bacterial infection is allowed to progress, periodontal disease begins to destroy the gums and the underlying jawbone; promoting tooth loss.  In some cases, the bacteria from this infection can travel to other areas of the body via the bloodstream.

Common Causes of Gum Disease

There are genetic and environmental factors involved in the onset of gum disease, and in many cases the risk of developing periodontitis can be significantly lowered by taking preventative measures.

Here are some of the most common causes of gum disease:

  • Poor dental hygiene – Preventing dental disease starts at home with good oral hygiene and a balanced diet.  Prevention also includes regular dental visits which include exams, cleanings, and x-rays.  A combination of excellent home care and professional dental care will ensure and preserve the natural dentition and supporting bony structures.  When bacteria and calculus (tartar) are not removed, the gums and bone around the teeth become affected by bacteria toxins and can cause gingivitis or periodontitis, which can lead to tooth loss.
  • Tobacco use – Research has indicated that smoking and tobacco use is one of the most significant factors in the development and progression of gum disease.  In addition to smokers experiencing a slower recovery and healing rate, smokers are far more likely to suffer from calculus (tartar) build up on teeth, deep pockets in the gingival tissue and significant bone loss.
  • Genetic predisposition – Despite practicing rigorous oral hygiene routines, as much as 30% of the population may have a strong genetic predisposition to gum disease.  These individuals are six times more likely to develop periodontal disease than individuals with no genetic predisposition.  Genetic tests can be used to determine susceptibility and early intervention can be performed to keep the oral cavity healthy.
  • Pregnancy and menopause – During pregnancy, regular brushing and flossing is critical. Hormonal changes experienced by the body can cause the gum tissue to become more sensitive, rendering them more susceptible to gum disease.
  • Chronic stress and poor diet – Stress lowers the ability of the immune system to fight off disease, which means bacterial infections may possibly beat the body’s defense system.  Poor diet or malnutrition can also lower the body’s ability to fight periodontal infections, as well as negatively affecting the health of the gums.
  • Diabetes and underlying medical issues – Many medical conditions can intensify or accelerate the onset and progression of gum disease including respiratory disease, heart disease, arthritis and osteoporosis.  Diabetes hinders the body’s ability to utilize insulin which makes the bacterial infection in the gums more difficult to control and cure.
  • Grinding teeth – The clenching or grinding of the teeth can significantly damage the supporting tissue surrounding the teeth.  Grinding one’s teeth is usually associated with a “bad bite” or the misalignment of the teeth.  When an individual is suffering from gum disease, the additional destruction of gingival tissue due to grinding can accelerate the progression of the disease.
  • Medication – Many drugs including oral contraceptive pills, heart medicines, anti-depressants and steroids affect the overall condition of teeth and gums; making them more susceptible to gum disease.  Steroid use promotes gingival overgrowth, which makes swelling more commonplace and allows bacteria to colonize more readily in the gum tissue.

Treatment of Gum Disease

Periodontists specialize in the treatment of gum disease and the placement of dental implants.  A periodontist can perform effective cleaning procedures in deep pockets such as scaling and root planing, and also prescribe antibiotic and antifungal medications to treat infection and halt the progression of the disease.

In the case of tooth loss, the periodontist is able to perform tissue grafts to promote natural tissue regeneration, and insert dental implants if a tooth or several teeth are missing.  Where gum recession causes a “toothy” looking smile, the periodontist can recontour the gingival tissue to create an even and aesthetically pleasing appearance.

Preventing periodontal disease is critical in preserving the natural dentition.  Addressing the causes of gum disease and discussing them with your dentist will help prevent the onset, progression, and recurrence of periodontal disease.

If you have any questions or concerns about the causes or treatments pertaining to gum disease, please ask your dentist.