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Gum Disease: Gingivitis and Periodontitis

Periodontal treatment is necessary when various conditions affect the health of your gums and the regions of your jaw bone that hold your teeth in place. Retaining your teeth is directly dependent on proper periodontal care and maintenance. Healthy gums enhance the appearance of your teeth, like a frame around a beautiful painting. 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. These changes not only affect your ability to chew and speak. They also spoil your smile.

Periodontal diseases are ongoing infections of the gums that gradually destroy the support of your natural teeth. Periodontal disease affects one or more of the periodontal tissues: alveolar bone, periodontal ligament, cementum, or gingiva. While there are many diseases which affect the tooth-supporting structures, plaque-induced inflammatory lesions make up the majority of periodontal issues, and are divided into two categories: gingivitis and periodontitis. While gingivitis, the less serious of the diseases, may never progress into periodontitis, it always precedes periodontitis.

Dental plaque is the primary cause of gingivitis in genetically susceptible individuals. Plaque is a sticky colorless film, composed primarily of food particles and various types of bacteria, which adhere to your teeth at and below the gum line. Plaque constantly forms on your teeth, even minutes after cleaning. Bacteria found in plaque produce toxins or poisons that irritate the gums. Gums may become inflamed, red, swollen, and bleed easily. If this irritation is prolonged, the gums separate from the teeth causing pockets (spaces) to form. If daily brushing and flossing is neglected, plaque can also harden into a rough, porous substance known as calculus (or tartar). This can occur both above and below the gum line.

If gingivitis progresses into periodontitis, the supporting gum tissue and bone that holds teeth in place deteriorates. The progressive loss of this bone, the alveolar, can lead to loosening and subsequent loss of teeth. Periodontitis is affected by bacteria that adhere to the tooth’s surface, along with an overly aggressive immune response to these bacteria.

Periodontal disease is dangerous in that it is often painless and symptomless. 80% of Americans will be afflicted with periodontal disease by age 45, and 4 out of 5 patients with the disease are unaware they have it. It is important to maintain proper home oral care and regular dentist visits to reduce the risk of obtaining this disease.

Gum disease goes by many names, including periodontal disease, gingivitis, periodontitis, and pyria. No matter what you call it, gum disease can progress and wreak havoc in the mouth, even eventually causing you to lose your teeth. Gum disease is initiated with the presence of bacterial plaque and progresses to more advanced forms depending on a number of factors, mainly poor oral hygiene and genetics. The presence of the plaque results in a hyperactive immune response that slowly destroys the supporting structures of the teeth (gums and bone). Periodontal disease is a chronic disease that is not curable, but is treatable and maintainable by your periodontist.

Gum disease starts with redness, irritation, possible bleeding, and inflammation of the gum tissues. This is the result of built up plaque that is being left to sit on the gums, which will eventually cause a bacterial infection. This early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. If the gum diseasegingivitis is treated quickly, the symptoms are easily reversible. However, if left untreated, gingivitisgum disease will can eventually turn into periodontal diseaseperiodontitis, a much more advanced stage of gumthe disease, which results in bone loss around your teeth. Once periodontal disease beginsAfter progression to periodontal disease, the gums and bone will start to break down, which , weakensning the supporting structures around the teeth and results inbones of the teeth and causing the teeth to become loose andthe teeth becoming loose eventuallyand eventually fall oufalling outt completely.

Causes of Gum & Periodontal Disease

There are several causes of gum and periodontal disease. A few of the most common causes include:

  • Poor Oral Health – Presence of bacterial plaque initiates gum disease. The best way to prevent any kind of dental disease starts with a good at-home dental hygiene routine for plaque removal. This includes brushing twice a day, flossing each day, and visiting your regular dentist twice a year for a routine dental cleaning and exam. Otherwise, plaque may build up on the teeth, causing dental cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease.
  • Genetics – Even if you take great care of your teeth, you may be one of the 30% of the population who has a genetic predisposition to gum disease. This means you’ll be six times more likely to eventually develop gum disease in your lifetime.
  • Tobacco Use – It has been proven that any kind of tobacco use (cigarettes, chewing tobacco, cigars, etc.) is one of the largest risk factors in the progression of gum disease. Use of tobacco will significantly speed the progress of the disease and make it more difficult to heal. There is a greater incidence of calculus formation on teeth, deeper pockets between gums and teeth, and a greater loss of the bone and fibers that hold teeth in your mouth., Additionally, you’re likely to experience more severe symptoms and complications if you’re a smoker. Furthermore, these products are detrimental to the success and survival of dental implants. In addition, your chance of developing oral cancer increases with the use of smokeless tobacco. Chemicals in tobacco such as nicotine and tar also slow down healing and the predictability of success following periodontal treatment. Quitting smoking and tobacco-use can have in numerous benefits for your overall and periodontal health.
  • Poor Oral Health – The best way to prevent any kind of dental disease starts with a good at-home dental hygiene routine. This includes brushing twice a day, flossing each day, and visiting your regular dentist twice a year for a routine dental cleaning and exam. Otherwise, plaque may build up on the teeth, causing dental cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease.
  • Genetics – Even if you take great care of your teeth, you may be one of the 30% of the population who has a genetic predisposition to gum disease. This means you’ll be six times more likely to eventually develop gum or periodontal disease in your lifetime.
  • Stress or Poor Diet – Chronic stress and eating poorly can lower your immune system’s ability to fight off disease. This will make you more vulnerable to a host of different problems, one of which is gum disease.gum disease and/or periodontitis.
  • Pregnancy or Menopause – The hormones that surge through a woman’s body during pregnancy or menopause can weaken the gum tissue, causing it to be more sensitive, tender, and more vulnerable to gum disease. Because of this, it’s important to stay on top of your dental care during these times of life.pregnancy or menopause.
  • Diabetes or Other Medical Problems – There are certain diseases that can contribute to or intensify the progression and likelihood of gum disease. These include heart disease, diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease, osteoporosis, and arthritis. Diabetes can play a significant role in the progression and treatment of gum disease as well as affect wound healing. If you suffer from any of these conditions, it’s important to talk to your dentist about gum disease and inform your periodontist.

Treating Gum & Periodontal Disease

Once gum disease has been confirmed, only a professional periodontist can treat the disorder. Brushing and flossing alone will not be able to remove the calculus/tartar (hardened plaque), wreaking havoc on your gums.

Below are a few of the treatment options for gum & periodontal disease, depending on the severity of your particular case:

The best way to avoid gum and periodontal disease is to take care of your dental hygienegums with excellent oral hygiene. If you have any of the above risk factors, have been told that you have gum disease, or think you may be developing gum disease, and would like to talk more about the prevention of gum disease, please don’t hesitate to contact our office immediately for a consultation. Littleton Implants & Periodontics is , located in beautiful Littleton, Colorado.

If you’re in search of a dental cleaning and a routine oral exam, you’ll probably call your general dentist to schedule an appointment. However, if you have been diagnosed with gum disease or need and extraction or dental implant, it is time to be evaluated by a periodontist.

Difference Between General Dentistry & Periodontics

A periodontist has extended education and experience in the field of periodontics and dental implants. Periodontics is the study of the structures that surround and support the teeth. This includes the gums, bone, and other soft tissues of the mouth. It is important to be seen by a periodontist immediately if your general dentist has told you that you have gum disease. Too frequently, patients will make their way into a periodontist office when it is too late and the teeth cannot be saved. There are a number of treatment options, both surgical and non-surgical, that periodontists can utilize to save your teeth where general dentists cannot. While one of the main problems seen by periodontists is gum disease (called periodontitis), it’s certainly not the only thing that they do. Dr. Jenkins can also diagnose and treat other diseases as well as provide a number of different surgical services to reconstruct the hard and soft tissues of the mouth. This includes the replacement of missing teeth with dental implants.

When to See a General Dentist

You should see a general dentist if you are in need of:

  • Standard oral X-rays
  • A dental checkup
  • A dental cleaning
  • Dental cavity treatment (fillings)
  • Simple Root canals
  • Crowns and Bridges

When to See a Periodontist

Periodontal treatment may be sought in several ways. Your general dentist or a hygienist may recommend a consultation with a periodontist if they find signs of periodontal disease through the course of a checkup or other dental care appointment. You may also decide to see a periodontist on your own as a referral is not necessary to be seen at our office.

In fact, if you experience any of these symptoms, we encourage you to schedule an appointment at our office without delay:

  • Bleeding while brushing or eating normal foods - Unexplained bleeding while performing regular cleaning or consuming food is the most common sign of a periodontal infection.
  • Bad breath - Ongoing halitosis (bad breath), which continues despite rigorous oral cleaning, can point to periodontitis, gingivitis or the beginnings of a gum infection.
  • Loose teeth and gum recession - Longer-looking and loose-feeling teeth can indicate recession of the gums and/or bone loss as a result of periodontal disease.
  • Related health concerns - Patients with heart disease, diabetes, osteopenia or osteoporosis are often diagnosed with correlating periodontal infections. The bacterial infection can spread through the blood stream, affecting other areas of the body.

The inside of the mouth is normally lined with a special type of skin (mucosa) that is smooth and coral pink in color. Any alteration in this appearance could be a warning sign for a pathological process. The most serious of these is oral cancer. The following are common signs of a pathologic process or cancerous growth:

  • Reddish patches (erythroplasia) or whitish patches (leukoplakia) 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 chewing or swallowing.

These changes can be detected on the lips, cheeks, palate, and gum tissue around the teeth, tongue, face, and/or neck. Pain does not always occur with pathology and, curiously, is not often associated with oral cancer. However, any patient with facial and/or oral pain without an obvious cause or reason may also be at risk for oral cancer. We recommend performing an oral cancer self-examination monthly.

Remember that your mouth is one of your body’s most important warning systems. Do not ignore suspicious lumps or sores. Please contact us so we may help.

You should visit Littleton Implants & Periodontics if you are in need of:

Bone grafting

  • Dental implant placement or implant replacement
  • Extractions with bone grafting
  • Scaling and rRoot planing (deep cleaning)
  • Periodontal surgery
  • Dental implants or implant replacement Bone grafting
  • Gum grafting
  • Sinus augmentation
  • Deep pocket cleanings
  • Hard tissue recontouring
  • Crown lengthening (Aesthetic or functional)
  • Gum or oral surgery Frenectomy or fiberotomy

In addition to tooth loss, aAllowing gum disease to go untreated can cause a number of serious health problems. These can include:

  • Worsening of diabetes symptoms
  • Heart disease & stroke
  • Low birth weight of babies who have mothers with gum disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Oral cancer

In the end, the biggest difference between a general dentist and a periodontist is would be that a periodontist specializesthe focus of their studies in the diagnosis of gum disease, the surgical procedures to treat gum disease, the reconstruction of the supporting hard and soft tissue, and the placement of dental implants. Additionally, a periodontist has undergone as well as many years of additional trainingthe extra schooling and experience beyond dental school in a 3 year advanced specialty program recognized by the American Dental Association. Furthermore, Dr. Jenkins is a board certified periodontist and a Diplomate of the American Board of Periodontology. If you need to visit our office, please don’t hesitate to contact us today. Ourdental implant & periodontics office is located in beautiful Littleton, Colorado.


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