Periodontal disease is an infection of the tissues that support the teeth. Teeth are supported by the gums, or gingiva. A tooth's root is anchored to its socket by fibers called periodontal ligaments.
The gums do not attach to the teeth as firmly as one might think, however. A shallow, V-shaped gap called a sulcus exists between the teeth and the gums. Periodontal disease affects this gap. Eventually, as the disease progresses, the tissues supporting the tooth break down.
The effects of gum disease go far beyond the mouth. Research studies show a connection between gum disease and serious health concerns including inflammation, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, strokes, respiratory disease, and pre-term or low birth weight babies.
There are two classifications of gum disease.
- Gingivitis, which causes lesions (wounds) that affect the gums
- Periodontitis, which damages the bone and connective tissue that supports the teeth
Symptoms of Gum Disease
- Bleeding gums
- Sensitive teeth
- Persistent bad breath
- Swollen, red or tender gums
- Spaces between your teeth
- Receding gums
- Loose or mobile teeth
How Does The Disease Start?
When food, bacteria or tartar are not sufficiently cleaned from the teeth, a community of bacteria called biofilm can develop and cause infections in the space or pocket between the teeth and gum tissue.
As the infection increases, oxygen is depleted and more damaging anaerobic bacteria dominate the area. In the advanced stages, clumps of bacteria detach from the biofilm in a “seeding” effect to form new infections.
When visiting our office, the standard cleaning procedure has been “scaling and root planning” which is the most common treatment used to remove the oral biofilm in periodontal pockets. Unfortunately bacteria are continually reintroduced into the mouth and oral biofilms regenerate very easily, so it is difficult to control between office visits.
My hygienists and I recently have been trained in a new technique to help our patients manage periodontal disease. This is very exciting as it is another way to treat gum disease. This is done through a program called the Perio Protect Method®. This method augments the professional cleanings with a technique that you can use at home to manage the oral bacteria on a daily basis.
Using a custom formed prescription tray, doctor-prescribed medication can be placed into the periodontal pocket. Medication is placed in the tray which is designed to prevent medication from being quickly washed away. This space is beyond the reach of a toothbrush. When medication is delivered according to the Perio Protect Method ®, the medication helps fight bacteria. Treatment takes just minutes a day, is comfortable, and many report fresher breath. A side benefit may be whiter teeth over time.
The first two weeks may require more frequent application of the medication. As healing occurs treatment will be modified to a simpler schedule. Regular application of the Perio Protect Method® will help sustain a clean oral environment.
You can view the Perio Protect video by clicking on the following link: www.youtube.com/perioprotect. Please contact our office if you want to learn more.