Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection which attacks the gums and the bone that support the teeth. The toxins found in bacterial plaque are responsible for inflammation that breaks down gum tissue and bone.
If treated promptly, 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 (periodontitis) promoting tooth loss. In some cases, the bacteria from this infection can travel to other areas of the body via the bloodstream.
Common Factors Contributing To Gum Disease
Poor oral 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 good home care and professional dental care is still the best means to 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 causing gingivitis or periodontitis, which can lead to tooth loss.
- Tobacco use – While tobacco use does not cause periodontal disease, it is one of the most significant factors in its development and progression. Both smoking and smoke-less tobacco cause a direct irritation of the gingival tissues and create a decrease in blood flow which renders the tissue much more susceptible to the toxins of bacterial plaque.
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 tissues 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 are more likely to beat the body’s defense system. Poor diet or malnutrition can also lower the body’s ability to fight periodontal infections.
Diabetes – If you are diabetic, you are at higher risk for developing infections, including periodontal diseases. In fact, periodontal disease is often considered the sixth complication of diabetes. Untreated periodontal disease can increase blood sugar, contributing to increased periods of time when the body functions with a high blood sugar. This puts diabetics at increased risk for diabetic complications. Diabetics who have periodontal disease should be treated to eliminate the periodontal infection.
Grinding teeth – The clenching or grinding of the teeth can significantly damage the supporting tissue surrounding the teeth. Grinding one’s teeth may be associated with a “bad bite” or the misalignment of the teeth. When an individual is suffering from untreated gum disease, grinding can accelerate the progression of the bone and gum tissue.
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.
Dr. Suway and his associates specialize in the treatment of gum disease and the placement of dental implants. They can perform effective "cleaning" procedures in deep pockets known as scaling and root planing, and also prescribe antibiotic medications to treat infection and halt the progression of the disease.
In the case of bone loss, the doctors are able to perform tissue grafts to promote natural tissue regeneration and to insert dental implants if a tooth or several teeth are missing. “Toothy” or "gummy" looking smiles can be treated with recontouring or regenerating the gingival tissue to create an even and aesthetically pleasing appearance.
Dr. Suway and his associates will be happy to address the causes of gum disease and discuss them with you to 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 feel free to call the office.
Jenkintown Periodontics & Dental Implants, LLC
Dr. Neal B. Suway & Associates
Dental Implants, Cosmetic and Laser Periodontics
261 Old York Road Suite 319
Jenkintown, PA 19046
Phone: (215) 887-6060
Convenient to Philadelphia, Abington, Willow Grove, Elkins Park, Cheltenham, Horsham, Warminster, and Hatboro