Periodontal disease shouldn’t signal losing a tooth.
Periodontal disease can often be a forerunner to serious dental problems – and even tooth loss. But it can easily be prevented, here’s the full story
Most of our patients – or indeed, most dedicated readers of this blog – have a pretty good working knowledge of the more common forms of dental treatment available on the market. They can hold a conversation on topics such as crowns, bridges, fillings, extractions, etc. – and they're pretty close to the truth most of the time.
But where they tend to come unstuck is when the conversation turns to periodontics. To most of our patients, this seems to be some form of foreign country, and their perceptions can often be very wide of the mark.
With that in mind, let’s start at the beginning and take you through a simple version of what periodontics is all about. Periodontics is defined, in very simple terms, as the discipline of dentistry that’s concerned with the various structures which surrounding and support the teeth.
It goes without saying, of course, that this is a very important facet of dentistry. Why so? Well simply because your teeth have no chance of surviving if the structures that surround and support them are in trouble!
By far the most common form of periodontic problem that you're liable to come across is gum disease – also referred to as periodontal disease. This is caused by bacterial infection. And while this infection doesn’t actually affect the teeth, it has a very negative impact on the soft tissue and bones around the teeth. You can see where that can lead to further down the road?
Will I know if I have gum disease?
There are a number of common tell-tale symptoms of gum or periodontal disease and the most common of these include:
• Inflammation or reddening of the gum area. You can check this visually in the mirror, but you’ll also probably have a sensation of inflammation.
• A loss of bone around the tooth area.
Gum disease can sometimes be confined to a single tooth, but more often than not , it will spread to neighbouring teeth and if not treated quickly, it can lead to tooth loss.
This is not normal
In bygone days, it was wrongly believed that ageing automatically leads to a certain amount of tooth loss. Far from it. Your teeth are intended to last you a lifetime, and with a good oral care regime and regular visits to your dentist, this should be the case, without question.
You might be surprised to learn how common the condition is. We don't have figures for Ireland, but the American National Institute of Health have published figures which suggest that around 80% of the American population are suffering from gum disease at any given time.
That’s why regular check-ups with your periodontist or dental surgeon are so important. After all, prevention is much better than cure.
Want to know more about periodontal disease?
You’ll find a great article over on the ever-helpful website of our friends at Colgate - http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/conditions/gum-disease/article/fighting-gum-disease-how-to-keep-your-teeth