Maintaining good oral health is more important than most people consider it to be. If you have a problem with your teeth or gums, it will affect your oral and overall body health. Periodontics is the branch of dentistry that focuses exclusively on an inflammatory disease that destroys your gums. Gum disease starts up as gingivitis and then progresses to the more severe periodontitis. In its late stages, gum disease can damage bones, supporting the teeth and causing the teeth to fall out. Also, this condition is linked to other severe health conditions, such as heart disease. If you have any problems with your teeth or gums, you will require a periodontics specialist's services. At Northridge Dentist, we are dedicated to providing the best quality dental services for our customers. We believe that oral health is paramount in the overall health of our clients.

Overview of Periodontics

Periodontics is a branch of dentistry that deals with the prevention, management, and treatment of diseases that affect the gums. Gums are structures that hold the teeth in place, and an infection in this part could have detrimental consequences on your oral health. One of the most common gum diseases is periodontitis. This is an infection that starts as mild gingivitis and then proceeds to the more severe periodontal disease.

In the early stages of the infection, bacteria or plaque builds up around the gums. Plaque buildup on the teeth and in gums is due to poor oral hygiene and leftover food particles. This will cause redness and inflammation of your gums. Swollen and red gums are weak and will bleed when brushing. Although the gums will be bleeding and swollen at this stage, your teeth will still be intact. Gingivitis does not cause damage to the bones or tissues attaching to the teeth. 

When gingivitis is not treated on time, it is likely to advance to periodontal disease. When periodontal gum disease develops, the jaw's gums and bones will pull away from the tooth and form pockets. The pockets will collect debris and more bacteria from the mouth, causing an infection. Your body will begin to fight the bacteria as the plague spreads deeper into the gums.

The plaque that develops in the gum pockets contains bacteria that produce toxins and poisons. These toxins start to break down the connective tissues and bones that hold the bones in place. As periodontitis progresses, the bacteria will destroy the gums, further causing the teeth to loosen. Before periodontal disease develops to a point where your teeth fall off, it is crucial to seek a periodontics specialist's services. Early detection can help salvage your teeth and smile.

Overview of Periodontal Gum Disease

Periodontitis is an infection of the gums that damages the bones and ligaments that hold the tooth in place. Periodontitis is one of the leading causes of tooth loss during adulthood. However, this dental complication could be prevented with proper hygiene and care for your teeth and gums. Most treatment options for advanced periodontitis are invasive, and you will require expert services to correct the problem.

Risk Factors for Periodontitis

Gum disease does not develop at once. It is a gradual process that begins with poor dental health practices. Some of the factors that predispose you to periodontal gum disease include:

  • Gingivitis - Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease characterized by swelling and itching of the gums. If you have gingivitis, the infection may likely develop to more severe periodontitis. However, it is crucial to understand that not all gingivitis will end up in severe gum disease. With proper care and rehabilitative treatment, you can salvage your gums and teeth from complete damage.

  • Tobacco smoking - When your gums suffer mild damage, the body has a way of self-repair. However, bad habits such as tobacco use, whether chewing or smoking, will offset the body ph. And make it difficult for the gums to self-repair.

  • Illness - Some illnesses suppress your body immunity making it difficult for your body to fight off infections. Common conditions that suppress your immunity include HIV/AIDS and leukemia. Also, some diseases like diabetes and Cohn’s disease cause an accumulation of sugar in the mouth, creating a conducive environment for bacteria growth.

  • Medications - Certain medications affect the saliva flow in the mouth, making it dry. Saliva is a protective layer for gums and teeth, and a dry mouth will increase your susceptibility to periodontal gum disease.

  • Family history of dental complications - Your genes can be a contributing factor to gum disease. This is due to healthy mouth bacteria acquired during the life making process.

  • Poor oral hygiene and practices - Brushing your teeth at least twice a day, and regular flossing is one of the ways through which you can prevent gum infections. Failure to maintain proper hygiene will cause a buildup of bacteria, making it easier for gum disease to develop. 

  • Nutrient deficiencies - Vitamin C is a nutrient that plays a significant role in the strengthening of the gums. A lack of this nutrient causes bleeding of the gums.

  • Hormonal imbalance - Imbalance in body hormones caused by pregnancy menopause or puberty increases gum sensitivity. Sensitive gums are easily irritated or bruised, which could be the first stage of gum disease.

Process of Gum Disease Development

Periodontitis is an infection that develops over time, and intervention can be done before the gums get destroyed. The process of gum disease involves:

  • Formation of plaque. When you fail to brush and floss your teeth regularly, the food will be retained in the mouth. Starches and sugars from leftover foods interact with bacteria in the mouth to form plaque.

  • The plaque hardens to form tartar. If the plaque is not removed, it will become sticky, forming tartar. Tartar is filled with bacteria and is sticky, which makes it difficult to remove. You cannot get rid of the tartar with regular oral hygiene practices such as brushing. Professional dental cleaning is a procedure necessary to get rid of this layer.

  • Gingivitis. Tartar us a mixture of food particles and bacteria. If it is not removed, the bacteria cause an infection, which leads to irritation and inflammation of the gums. Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease and is reversible with proper treatment.

  • Periodontitis. As bacteria from tartar continue to eat away your gums, pockets will be formed between the teeth and gums. With time, plaque will fill up the pockets causing damage to the bones and tissues below the gums. These deep infections cause loosening and eventually loss of the teeth. It is wise to seek dental treatment before a gum infection develops to periodontitis.

Diagnosis of Periodontitis

When you visit a periodontics specialist, they will carry out the following procedures. The procedures help determine whether or not you are suffering from periodontitis:

  • Examining your mouth - The periodontics expert will want to check your mouth and teeth surfaces to identify any buildup of tartar and plaque. Also, they will check out for any inflammations or changes in the outlook of your gums. Shaky teeth and improper alignment can also be an indication of gum disease. When you visit the doctor, ensure you give all the information, including a history of bad breath or irritation of the gums.

  • The doctor will check the depth of the gum pockets -The extent of pockets that have formed due to periodontal gum disease will help determine the damage done by the disease. The doctor will measure the depth of these pockets by putting a dental probe below your gum line at different positions within the mouth.

  • Dental X-rays will be taken - Periodontal gum disease in its late stages is characterized by loss of muscle and bones that support the teeth. However, the damaged bones may not be visible if the root has not fallen off. Therefore, dental x-rays may be performed to check the extent of damage to the bone.

  • Your medical history - Several medical conditions predispose you to the development of gum disease. The diseases will include diabetes, cancer, or any other condition that affects your immunity. By checking out for these infections, the periodontist will know the likelihood of you developing gum disease. Also, your medical history will help identify any history of dental complications in your genes. This is because genetics is a risk factor for developing this dental complication.

Symptoms of Periodontal Gum Disease

Sometimes, gum disease will develop and progress to periodontitis without pain and with mild symptoms. However, it is crucial to look out for the following signs and symptoms:

  • Bleeding gums - Healthy gums are pale pink in color and firm. If your gums bleed during brushing, it can be an indication that you are suffering from gum disease.

  • Swollen and tender gums - When bacteria accumulate in the gums from poor oral hygiene practices, it can cause an infection and swelling of the gums.

  • Receding gums - Gum recession is where the margin of the gums wears away, exposing a larger surface of the tooth. This exposes the tissues and bones of the teeth to bacteria and complete damage. Receding gums is a common indication of gum disease due to damage from bacteria.

  • Spaces between the teeth - When gum disease is developing, a bacterial infection will cause pockets to form between your gums and teeth. These pockets are filled with more plaque and bacteria, worsening the periodontitis.

  • Loose teeth - One of the indications of severe gum disease is loosening and falling of the teeth. As the bacteria in plaque destroys the bones and tissues that hold the teeth in place, you will experience loose teeth. Also, your teeth may shift from the position and change the way they fit together in the mouth.

  • Bad breath - Bad breath can be a result of poor oral hygiene or from the consumption of certain foods. However, persistent bad breath could be a symptom of gum disease. Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is often a result of the accumulation of plaque and bacteria on the teeth. Also, pockets filled with bacteria and tartar could cause foul breath. Bad breath can be quite embarrassing and could lower your self-esteem. Therefore, if this symptom is recurrent, you need to seek proper dental care.

  • Painful chewing - When bacteria from plaque causes swelling and irritation of gums, you could feel pain when chewing. Also, shifted and shaking teeth could cause immense pain. 

Periodontics Treatment Procedures

It is essential to visit a periodontist if you have any symptoms of gum disease, including bad breath, swollen gums, and loose teeth. The main aim of periodontics treatment is to remove plaque and bacteria. This will help prevent further damage to the teeth, gums, and surrounding muscles. If the disease is not advanced, the periodontist will carry out the following non-surgical treatment procedures:

  • Antibiotics - Periodontal gum disease is a bacterial infection. A periodontal expert could recommend oral antibiotics for you to eliminate the infection. Also, after cleaning off the bacterial filled pockets, medicines could be inserted in the spaces. However, antibiotics will be used as a form of treatment if the disease has not progressed to damage the bones.

  • Root planing - Root planing is a non-surgical procedure where the surfaces of the tooth root. This helps discourage the accumulation of plaque and tartar. Also, bacteria-filled plaque that forms below the gum line can be removed using the root planing procedure. If you have a more advanced form of periodontitis that requires surgical treatment, root planning could be done before the surgery. Root planing is a procedure that requires competent expertise to avoid disease progression.

  • Scaling - Scaling is a procedure used to remove sticky tartar and plaque from tooth surfaces. Plaque that is filled with bacteria forms a sticky substance that cannot be removed from the tooth surface by brushing. An ultrasonic device or laser is an effective way to get rid of this film of bacteria. A periodontist must understand your history before performing the procedure. This is because scaling can potentially introduce bacteria into your bloodstream, increasing the risk of other infections.

In situations where periodontitis has advanced to damage bones and tissues, dental surgery may be necessary. Some of the periodontal surgical procedures include:

  • Tissue grafts - When gums are infected in the process of gum disease development, you are likely to lose some gum tissues. Loss of gum tissues will cause the gums to move away, exposing a larger surface of the tooth to destruction. Soft tissue grafts are aimed at filling the broken parts of the gum to avoid further receding. The dental expert will remove some tissues from your palate and place them on the damaged part.

  • Pocket reduction surgery - Gum disease creates pockets between the gums and teeth. These pockets are filled with bacteria, which causes further damage to the tooth. The purpose of flap surgery is to reduce the sizes of these pockets. This is done by lifting the receded gum back to position. Some damaged bones can be reconstructed in pocket reduction surgery, and scaling of the tooth roots is accomplished.

  • Tissue regeneration - Tissue regeneration allows the part of the bone that was damaged by bacteria to grow back. The doctor places a piece of fabric on the existing be to prevent unwanted particles from the healing bone.

  • Tissue stimulating proteins. Tissue stimulation is another technique used in periodontics to treat gum disease - A gel containing proteins will be applied to the root of the damaged tooth. The gel used in this procedure includes proteins that are similar to those in tooth enamel.

  • Bone grafting - A graft contains fragments of your bone or ones donated by a compatible person. A bone graft will hold your teeth together to avoid loss. Bone grafting is a treatment option when severe gum disease has damaged bones around the root of your tooth.

Complications Associated with Periodontal Gum Disease

When tartar and plaque develop in your teeth and start to experience gum disease symptoms, it is crucial to seek professional dental care. The following are complications associated with the development of periodontal gum disease:

  • Tooth loss - Gum disease, in its late stages, affects the bones and tissues that support your teeth. This is always a result of bacterial infections that cause the death of cells around the gum area. Periodontitis will cause receding of gums, shaky teeth, and in the end, tooth loss. Losing your teeth could be devastating, and you might have to undergo numerous procedures to replace them. It is crucial to seek the services of a periodontics specialist before you start to lose your teeth.

  • Gangrene - Gangrene is a serious condition where blood supply is cut from a particular part of the body, causing the death of tissues. When your gums are infected, they will swell and get irritated. This will cause the production of puss and a foul smell from the bacteria.

  • Cardiovascular disease - Although there is no direct relationship between periodontitis and heart disease, individuals with gum disease are more susceptible to cardiovascular complications. This is because the gums' inflammation causes a release of white blood cells, which can cause atherosclerosis.

  • Lung infections - Respiratory diseases are a common cause of death. Oral disorders, especially periodontal gum disease, have been linked to the development of respiratory infections. Bacteria that cause gum disease could be aspirated into the lungs, causing inflammation and pneumonia. By protecting yourself and seeking treatment for gum disease, you can reduce your chances of contracting lung infections.

  • Premature labor - It is considered early labor if a woman starts experiencing labor pains before the due date of delivery. Periodontitis is a destructive infection that causes inflammation to the gums. Some of the bacteria species involved in gum disease may enter the bloodstream targeting the fetus. This is likely to cause premature labor and birth. Babies who are born prematurely are often low birth weight and may develop other health complications. If you are pregnant and experiencing symptoms of gum disease, it is crucial to seek immediate medical care.

Prevention of Periodontitis

Periodontal gum disease has severe consequences for both your dental and general health. Fortunately, this disease is preventable by adopting the following habits:

  • Brushing your teeth at least twice a day - Food particles left on the tooth surface and in spaces between the teeth attract bacteria, which later causes gum disease. Therefore, brushing removes these particles keeping away the bacteria that cause periodontitis. Also, it is essential to use a toothbrush with soft bristles to avoid irritating your gums.

  • Floss daily - Flossing removes food particles stuck between the teeth where a toothbrush cannot reach.

  • Swiss with mouthwash - Using mouthwash can help reduce plaque developing on the teeth surface. Also, it may help remove bacteria from the overstayed food particles.

  • Avoid smoking and chewing tobacco - Smoking changes the conditions of the mouth, which increases the risk of bacteria growth. By avoiding these behaviors, you will reduce your susceptibility to contracting periodontal gum disease.

  • Make regular dental visits - It is advisable to make at least two dental visits per year. You do not need to have a dental problem to see the doctor. By getting regular checkups, your periodontist can identify any signs or risk factors of gum disease and help prevent complete gum damage. Also, if you have developed gingivitis, you can receive treatment before it progresses to periodontitis.

Fight Periodontal Problems with the Help of a Dentist Near Me

Periodontitis can cause your teeth to loosen and fall off if left untreated. Also, bad breath, which is a common consequence of this disease, can lower your self-esteem. In severe cases, you will require extensive treatment to replace the lost teeth. This may include reconstruction and replacement surgeries, which could be painful. Your oral health is of great importance, and you should not entrust it to anyone, but you have to find a trustworthy dental expert. Our group of professionals from Northridge Dentist provides expert dental care services for customers throughout Northridge, CA. Contact us today at 818-875-0216 and allow us to take care of you.