What are Periodontal Diseases and Conditions?
Periodontal diseases and conditions affect the tissues around your teeth. There are three types of tissues around your teeth that can be affected: gums, underneath bone, and connective tissue between the tooth and bone/gums. Various conditions can affect the health of these tissues. Proper periodontal care, early treatment of periodontal conditions, and periodontal maintenance (follow-up care) are the key elements for your periodontal health and teeth retaining. Healthy gums enhance the appearance of your teeth; healthy surrounding bones ensure the proper function and alignment of your teeth; healthy connecting tissue help to seal against disease invasion. When your gums become unhealthy, they can either recede or become swollen and red. In later stages, the supporting bone is destroyed and your teeth will shift, loosen, or fall out. This disease process not only affects your ability to chew and speak; it can also affect your overall health and ruin your smile. JJLL
Can You Prevent Gum Disease?
Cumulated research findings state that adults past the age of 35 lose more teeth due to gum diseases than from cavities. Three out of four adults are affected at some time in their life. The best way to prevent periodontal diseases is using good home care including tooth brushing and flossing techniques performed daily, and regular professional examinations and cleanings. However, some individuals can develop periodontal disease even with the most diligent home dental care. Once this disease starts, professional intervention is necessary to stop its progression.
Some key factors that negatively affect the health of your gums:
- Tobacco Usage
- Clenching and Grinding Teeth
- Certain Medications
- Poor Nutrition
Periodontal Disease and Tobacco
Even though most people are aware of the links between tobacco use and lung cancer/heart disease, few get ahold of the relation between tobacco usage and gum diseases. Many studies have well-documented this relation. Periodontal disease can develop much faster for tobacco users. Smokers have a two to six times greater chance of developing periodontal disease. They tend to develop deeper pockets between gums and teeth and greater loss of the bone and fibers around the teeth. In addition, there is an increased risk of developing oral cancer with the use of smokeless tobacco.
Furthermore, chemicals in tobacco such as nicotine and tar severely affect healing. These chemicals can significantly decrease the predictability of success following periodontal treatment.
So basically, smoking can cause lung disease, heart disease, cancer, mouth sores, gum recession, loss of bone and teeth, bad breath, tooth staining, and reduced success with periodontal treatment and dental implants.
The good news is: research data has shown that there is an immediate effect of quitting tobacco. The success rate of dental implants and healing after periodontal procedures are almost the same as those of nonsmokers if the patient quits smoke completely before the procedure. We will be glad to encourage you in your tobacco cessation.
Diabetes and Oral Health
Research data shows that individuals having diabetes, especially uncontrolled diabetes, have a much higher risk of developing infectious periondontal diseases. More importantly, the periodontal infections can impair your ability to process insulin, resulting in greater difficulty with your diabetic control. Periodontal diseases in an uncontrolled diabetic are generally more severe than those of a non-diabetic. The periodontal treatment results are severely affected in uncontrolled diabetes. However, with well-controlled diabetics these problems are not significant.
For patients with diabetes, your daily brushing and flossing to remove plaque from your teeth and gums combined with regular dental visits for professional cleaning and regular periodontal evaluation are very important keys for disease prevention and control. Maintaining good control of your blood sugar levels can also reduce the chance of developing gum diseases. Early treatment of the gum condition will benefit your mouth and the body.
Women and Periodontal Health
Fluctuations in hormonal levels during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause can affect your periondontal health. Special care and professional treatment may be necessary during the life course of women.
During puberty, there is an increased production of sex hormones, which increases gum sensitivity and leads to greater reaction to plaque and food particles. The gums can become swollen, turn red and feel tender.
A similar situation can appear several days before menstruation. The bright red bleeding of the gums may clear up once the period has started as the amount of sex hormones decrease.
Your gums and teeth are also affected during pregnancy. Between the second and eighth month, your gums may also swell, bleed and become red or tender. Some may develop large lumps associated to local irritants. However, these growths are generally painless and not cancerous. They may require professional removal, but usually disappear after pregnancy.
For those with pre-existing periodontal diseases, pregnancy can greatly worsen the conditions. Obviously, regular professional care and gum treatment before pregnancy is the smartest approach. Gum problems still need to be treated during pregnancy, as any infections during pregnancy can place a baby’s health at risk. The safe period for active treatment is during the second trimester (4-6 month of pregnancy).
The best way to prevent periodontal infections is to begin with healthy gums and continue to maintain your oral health with proper home care and professional periodontal monitoring.
Oral contraceptives are synthetic hormones. Therefore, swelling, bleeding, and tenderness of the gums may also occur when you are taking these medications.
We need to know if you are taking oral contraceptives prior to medical or dental treatment. Risk of drug interactions, such as antibiotics with oral contraceptives, can lessen the effectiveness of the contraceptive.
Many changes can take place in the look and feel of your mouth after menopause. Some may develop pain and a burning sensation in your gum tissue and mouth. Some others may have taste changes: salty, peppery or sour tastes.
Careful home oral hygiene and professional cleaning may relieve these symptoms. Saliva substitutes can ease the effects of “dry mouth.”
Many factors (such as genetic factors, medical conditions, etc.) are associated with periodontal diseases and conditions. However, bacterial plaque is a necessary factor for this type of disease. Research shows that animals with severe medial conditions and immune problems do not develop periodontal disease if raised in a bacteria-free environment. Therefore, your home care and regular professional care is a key to your periodontal health.
We highly recommend having a powered toothbrush for your daily home care. If you use a manual toothbrush, we recommend you brush the outside surfaces of your teeth with the brush angled at 45-degrees against the junction between your gums and teeth. Gently move the brush in a circular or short back and forth motion 10 times using small, gentle strokes to avoid trauma. Brush inside surfaces of your teeth following the same technique. Do not forget to gently brush the surrounding gum tissue.
Change the position of the brush as often as necessary to reach and clean all surfaces of your teeth. After brushing, rinse vigorously to remove any loosened plaque.
Flossing removes plaque from the adjacent surfaces of your teeth. In fact, periodontal disease usually occurs at this area where your toothbrush cannot reach. Flossing is a very effective way to remove plaque from these surfaces.
Get started with a piece of floss (waxed or unwaxed) about 18" long. Lightly wrap around your pointing fingers with end of the floss leaving 2.5” floss between the two fingers.
To clean the upper teeth, hold the floss tightly between the thumb and middle finger of each hand. Gently insert the floss tightly between the teeth using a back-and-forth motion. Do not force the floss or snap it into place. Bring the floss underneath the gum line (feel resistance) then curve around one tooth. Move the floss up and down for 5-10 times on the side of one tooth. Then clean the other side of the same space in the same way. Finish each adjacent surface for all the teeth. Be careful not to cut the gum tissue between the teeth.
Clean tooth surfaces between the bottom teeth in the same manner. Do not forget the backside of the last tooth.
When you are done, rinse vigorously with water to remove plaque and food particles. Do not be alarmed if your gums bleed for the first week of flossing. If your gums hurt while flossing you could be doing it too hard or pinching the gum. As you continue flossing daily and remove the plaque, your gums will heal and the bleeding should stop.
Caring for Sensitive Teeth
Teeth can become sensitive to hot and cold after gum or dental treatment. This symptom normally will disappear in two weeks, but only if the mouth is kept clean. If the mouth is not kept clean the sensitivity will remain and could become worse. If your teeth are especially sensitive, feel free to call us. We can treat the specific sensitive teeth at the office. Sensitivity toothpaste such as Crest with sensitivity protection, Colgate with sensitivity protection or Sensodyne can be used at home. In general, if the sensitivity is treated by toothpaste only, it may take a month or more to become effective.
Choosing Oral Hygiene Products
For most patients, automatic and "high-tech" electronic toothbrushes are safe and effective. Oral irrigators (water spraying devices) can rinse your mouth, but cannot remove plaque. You need to brush and floss in conjunction with the irrigator to be effective. We see excellent results with the electric toothbrush called Sonicare.
Some toothbrushes have a rubber tip on the handle for you to massage the gums after brushing. Tiny brushes (interproximal toothbrushes) are proven to be effective to clean between your teeth, also. Consult your doctor for the proper use.
Fluoride toothpastes and mouth rinses used in conjunction with brushing and flossing have proven to reduce tooth decay as much as 40%. However, the rinses are not recommended for children under six years of age. The proper home care can only control tartar or plaque above the gums. Office treatment is needed if you have gum conditions that start beneath your gums.
Anti-plaque rinses, approved by the American Dental Association, may help bring early gum disease under control. You can use these in conjunction with brushing and flossing. Products like Listerine® or Listerine-like products are our recommendations.
Remember, your periodontist is the best person to consult for choosing the right products that fit you the best.Professional Cleaning
Daily brushing and flossing keep dental plaque and calculus to a minimum, while a professional cleaning removes calculus from places where your toothbrush and floss may have missed. Visit your periodontist, as he or she is an important part of your program in preventing gum disease, allowing you the pleasure of keeping your teeth for your lifetime.
The tissue lining the inner surface of your mouth (mucosa) is normally smooth and coral pink in color. Any alteration of this appearance could be a warning sign for a pathological condition. The most serious of these is oral cancer. The following can be signs at the beginning of a pathologic process or cancerous growth:
- Reddish patches (erythroplasia) or whitish patches (leukocytosis) in the mouth
- A sore that fails to heal and bleeds easily
- A lump or thickening on the skin lining the inside of the mouth
- Chronic sore throat or hoarseness
- Difficulty in chewing or swallowing
By examine your lips, cheeks, palate, and gum tissue around the teeth, tongue, face, and/or neck, we can identify any tissue alteration for a possible pathological condition. Please be aware that your mouth is one of your body's most important warning organs. Please contact us for any of your concerns.
9889 Bellaire Boulevard
Houston, TX 77036
(713) 995-0086 phone
(713) 589-8774 fax