If dental plaque is accumulated in the tissues surrounding the teeth, the bacteria contained in the plaque can cause the inflammation and bleeding of the gums, which can then lead to periodontitis, also known as gum disease and pyorrhea.
Periodontitis is a disease of the tissues surrounding the teeth that can lead to a total loss of alveolar bone and, ultimately loss of teeth. It is a slowly progressing condition: it begins when ‘pockets’ appear next to a tooth, where bacteria are accumulated that slowly but progressively deepen these pockets.
Good oral health enables carefree chewing and tasting of foods, speaking, kissing and smiling. The diseases affecting the oral cavity also present a considerable threat to our general health. Periodontal disease, the most widespread of these diseases, is a large-scale public health problem.
Periodontal disease is arguably as old as humankind, but this fact does not mean that we should take it for granted and simply accept its consequences.
Research has shown that over 90 per cent of the Slovenian population suffers from one of the forms of periodontal disease. The causes leading to the inflammation of the gingival edge advancing to periodontitis are numerous and closely intertwined. These causes range from an individual’s genetic background, social-economic position, the presence of systemic diseases, racial differences, bad habits, diet, stress and oral hygiene levels.
The main cause for gum disease is insufficient or incorrect oral hygiene that causes the accumulation of plaque on the teeth. This is the breeding ground for bacteria and their secretions trigger the inflammatory response of our organism. Through time, this battle shifts in favour of the bacteria, the gingival pockets surrounding the teeth become increasingly deep, where soft and solid plaque, inflammatory cells, bacteria and their waste products, dead cell residue, etc. are accumulated.
The depth of the pockets surrounding the teeth increases to over 3 millimetres, they bleed or excrete pus when probed, the periodontal ligament and the bone begin to disintegrate, the tooth becomes loose and falls out painlessly at the last stage.
The impact of periodontal disease on general human health is quite frightening:
- CORONARY ARTERY DISEASES.
- Due to occasional mobilisation of oral cavity bacteria into the blood flow, the persons suffering from heart valve disease can develop bacterial endocarditis. Studies also point out to the link between periodontal disease and arteriosclerosis, coronary thrombosis and myocardial infarction.
- Periodontal disease occurs as a complication of diabetes, while advanced periodontal disease hinders proper regulation of blood sugar.
- RESPIRATORY DISEASE.
- Studies associate periodontal disease with respiratory tract infections in hospitalised patients.
- PREGNANCY AND CHILDBIRTH.
- Low birth weight, premature delivery and miscarriages are also linked to the presence of periodontal disease in pregnant women.
HOW TO RECOGNISE THE SYMPTOMS OF PERIODONTAL DISEASE:
- bleeding gums while brushing the teeth
- the gums are red and swollen
- apparent lengthening of the teeth due to gingival recession
- halitosis and persistent metallic taste in the mouth
- increasing gaps between the teeth
- the bite changes
A TIMELY DETECTION OF THE CHANGES TO THE GUMS AND A SWIFT RESPONSE ARE CRUCIAL, that is when the disease is still at its initial stage (gingivitis), for this enables successful treatment, control and mitigation of its destructive consequences for the entire body.
Regular preventive dental checks twice per year are recommended.
During the first check, we use a diagnostic probe to measure the depth of the pockets, determine the state of the disease and devise an individualised action plan for treatment.
Nowadays, good diagnostics are crucial for successful treatment. The symptoms of the disease do not become too apparent until quite late, when much of the damage has already been done and its consequences irreparable. The dentist must be able to look for the first signs of the disease. Following a conversation with the patient, the dentist carries out a visual check with the aid of a panoramic X-ray scan film.
In order to determine the condition of the tissues surrounding the teeth, an electronic diagnostic probe is used to measure the depth of the pockets. The results of this measurement are your to keep and you may decide to pursue treatment with any other therapist.
Once the condition of the depth of pockets is determined, an action plan is designed, which includes;
- Oral hygiene – cleaning of plaque above the gum, and sanding
The cleaning of plaque underneath the gum – the cleaning of pockets
- Antibacterial rinsing of the pockets – gingival disinfection and acceleration of healing (a chlorhexidine and saline solution) and hyaluronic acid to stimulate healing
- Laser treatment – photodynamic therapy; laser therapy has proven to be very effective in the treatment of periodontal tissues. Photodynamic therapy functions by using the effects of the laser beam and a special dye. It is used as continuation of root peeling and smoothening, where manual removal was imprecise, either due to the anatomic particularities of the teeth or due to the depth of the pockets. The dye colours the bacterial envelope and chemically attaches to it. After a while, the dye is rinsed off and the pockets are beamed with the laser. The bacteria containing the dye disintegrates or their envelopes are destroyed. The procedure is repeated several times in 3- to 7-day intervals (depending on the depth of the pockets).
- PerioShine therapy – Biorepulsive protection of the teeth and support to periodontal therapy (the tooth protection effect resulting in natural bleaching of the teeth lasts for 9 to 12 months)
It is good to know: periodontal disease can be successfully healed or controlled in its initial stage. The most important aspect is the fact that this requires a far smaller number of laser therapies, which in turn means considerably lower costs of treatment.