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Home  /  Periodontal - Dental News  /  Need periodontal treatment? Don't put it off.

Periodontal disease is a sign that things are very definitely not right in your mouth – and with your dental care regime. Here’s why that’s so important.

It seems that everywhere we go on social media these days, there’s a photograph of someone celebrating a hundredth birthday – and looking for ‘Likes’ to celebrate the fact. We’ve even heard a very sprightly 106-year-old interviewed on radio recently, spelling out her ambitions for the next ten years.


It really is fantastic that we live in an age where life expectancy is so high – and medical science is making such huge gains against life-threatening disease. From a statistical point of view, a baby girl born in Ireland today has a life expectancy of 100. There’s something to celebrate!


So why are we rabbiting on about this in a dental blog, you may ask. Well, it’s very simple. If YOU’RE going to last for a hundred years, it stands to reason that your teeth will need to last for a hundred years too. In the dim and distant past, it was wrongly assumed that getting older inevitably leads to tooth loss. This is absolutely not the case. Your teeth have been designed to last a lifetime, no matter how long that life may go on for.


That being the case, it goes without saying that your oral care regime means to be extra diligent. You also need to be ‘your own dentist’, i.e. keeping an eye out for symptoms that might herald trouble further down the line.


And top of the list of problems to look out for is periodontal disease. It’s referred to on a more common basis as gum disease, and it can vary from very early stages to full-on TROUBLE. Most of us experience some form of gum disease at some time or another, and figures in the U.S. indicate that eight out of ten people might have the problem at any one stage.


Tell me a bit more about periodontics

If you want a simple definition of periodontics, it’s the ‘wing’ of dentistry that concerns itself with the structures supporting and surrounding the teeth. And this is why we say that periodontal problems are a major threat to having a flashing smile on your hundredth birthday. Your teeth simply have zero chance of surviving if there’s a problem with the surrounding structures. It reminds us of the old gag about “your teeth are perfect – but your gums will have to come out”.


As to why you might need to see a periodontist in the first place, the main culprit is bacterial infection. It doesn’t harm the tooth per se, but can have a devastating impact on your soft tissues and bones.


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.


In certain mild cases, the gum disease might just be confined to a single tooth, but bacteria being what it is, it tends to spread to the neighbouring teeth. And if you don't have it seen to pretty quickly, you can be heading for tooth loss.


So what should I do?

Periodontal treatment is inexpensive, fast and pretty much painless. But we can’t overstate how important it is. So if you haven’t been to your dentist in a while, put that right today. Pick up the phone and organise a check-up – and let your dentist cast a cold eye over what’s happening in your mouth. Frequently, the treatment will involve just a thorough cleaning, but in extreme cases, surgery could be required.

Meanwhile, if you’d like to know more about periodontal disease, here’s a good staring point – an article on the HSE website: http://www.hse.ie/eng/health/az/G/Gingivitis-and-periodontitis/Treating-gum-disease.html