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Hilliard Blank, DDS & Associates > Chicago Dental Blog > Periodontal Disease


Periodontal Disease : October 31, 2014

Periodontal Disease: Risks, Causes, and Treatment

By: Dr. Hilliard Blank

Periodontal disease is relatively simple to prevent. Brushing and flossing twice a day will help you reduce the odds of most types of gum disease and skip the worst symptoms of periodontitis before they appear. The most common symptoms are swollen gums, gums that bleed easily during brushing and flossing, chronic bad breath, and loose adult teeth. Prevention is essential, but there are plenty of ways to identify and treat the problems of periodontal disease after onset.

 

Risk Factors for Periodontal Disease

Tobacco Use

Smoking and chewing tobacco damage the cells in your gums, causing decreased functioning. In particular, blood flow decreases and your natural healing ability is reduced. Weakened gum tissue is more likely to pull away from teeth, leaving more room for infection and less ability to heal.

 

Diabetes

A diet high in sugar promotes the growth of bacteria in the form of plaque on your teeth. Diabetes is a major risk factor for periodontal disease because of the elevated sugar levels in the bloodstream. Besides diabetes, a diet that is low in vitamins can weaken your immune system and jeopardize your oral health.

 

Genetics

If you have a family history of gum disease or periodontitis, you are more likely to contract the disease yourself. Check with family members or your family physician.

 

Treatment for Periodontal Disease

 

Scaling and Root Planing

Scaling and root planing targets the plaque and buildup deep within the gums. Using tools with longer necks and local anesthesia, our dentists or dental hygienists will clean deep beneath the gum line. This buried tartar is the source of the problem. It causes foul odors, fuels decay, and allows greater propagation of unhealthy bacteria in your mouth.

 

Antibiotics

For gingivitis and other types of gum infections, antibiotics can be used to reduce the amount of unhealthy bacteria in your gums. During root planing, we can apply an antibacterial gel directly below the gum line, which gradually dissolves over a few days. There are also antibacterial rinses that can be used over short periods of time.

 

Surgery

There are several types of oral surgery that treat periodontal disease. Gum surgeries reconnect the gum tissue to the tooth, restoring some of tooth’s stability. Flap procedures are common and require a periodontist. The gum is pulled back and the roots of the tooth are targeted for surgical repair to reconnect tooth ligaments with the jaw bone.

 

Extraction

Extraction is the final measure when all preventative measures have failed. The tooth is removed and the extraction site is thoroughly cleaned to prevent further spread of the disease. This is most necessary for loose or damaged teeth beyond salvage. A false tooth can be implanted as a replacement, but if the damage involves many teeth, dentures may be the best option.