Cleanings and Periodontal (Gum) Disease

Regularly scheduled dental cleanings and comprehensive examinations are critical to maintaining your optimal oral health. Oral health touches every aspect of our lives, but is often taken for granted. Your mouth is a window into the health of your body. It can show signs of nutritional deficiencies or general infection. Systemic diseases, which are those that affect the entire body, may first become apparent because of mouth lesions or other oral health problems.

Whether you are 1 or 100 years old, your oral health is vitally important. Most Americans today enjoy excellent oral health and are keeping their natural teeth throughout their lives, however, dental decay or cavities remain the most prevalent chronic disease of childhood. Some 100 million Americans fail to see a dentist each year, even though regular dental examinations and good oral hygiene can prevent most dental disease. Early intervention is the key to successfully treating all dental conditions.

Uninformed people or those in denial believe that they need to see a dentist only if they are in pain or think something is wrong, but regular dental visits can contribute to a lifetime of good oral health. If you are experiencing dental pain, don’t put off coming into my practice and seeing me. If it’s beginning to hurt it is already an advanced problem! With dentistry’s many advances, diagnosis and treatment are more sophisticated and comfortable than ever. Learn about me, Dr. Tyr R. Peterson and The Practice, within this website and call 303-424-6483 to make an appointment today.

Health Disease and Oral Health

Take care of your gums… have a healthier heart?

The American Heart Association published a Statement in April 2012 supporting the association between gum disease and heart disease. Many research studies show an as yet unexplained association between gum disease and several serious health conditions, including heart disease, even after adjusting for common risk factors between gum disease and these other life-threatening conditions. This newest article noted that scientific data do not indicate if regular brushing and flossing or treatment of gum disease will decrease the incidence, rate or severity of the narrowing of the arteries (called atherosclerosis) that can lead to heart attacks and strokes. However, somehow these conditions are intertwined.


Periodontal (Gum) Disease:

Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is a chronic bacterial infection and resulting inflammation of the gums and supporting tissue/structures. It is the major cause of about 70% of adult tooth loss, affecting three out of four people at some point in their life. Periodontal disease includes gingivitis and periodontitis.

Gum disease is caused by bacterial plaque (a sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on the teeth) and is recognized as the primary cause of gum disease. If plaque isn’t carefully removed each day by brushing and flossing, it hardens into a rough, porous substance called calculus or tartar. Calculus or tartar is nearly impossible to remove without a professional cleaning in my office. The toxins produced and released by the bacteria in plaque or calculus chronically irritate the gums. These toxins cause the breakdown of the fibers that hold the gums tightly to the teeth, creating periodontal pockets that fill with even more toxins and bacteria. As the disease progresses, pockets extend deeper, and the bacteria moves down until the bone that holds the tooth in place is destroyed. The tooth eventually will fall out or require extraction.

There are other factors such as genetics, other diseases, and lifestyle choices that can be a factor in developing periodontal disease. An unbalanced diet low in nutrients can diminish your body’s ability to fight infection. Smokers and smokeless tobacco users have more irritation to gum tissues than non-tobacco users, while daily stress can also affect the ability to ward off disease.  Diseases that interfere with your body’s immune system, such as leukemia, auto-immune diseases, or AIDS, may worsen the condition of your gums. In patients with diabetes, where the body is more prone to infection, gum disease is more severe and harder to control. A family history of periodontal disease is a significant risk factor. Pregnant women experience elevated levels f hormones that cause the gums to react differently to the bacteria found in plaque, and in many cases can cause a condition known as “pregnancy gingivitis”.

Signs and symptoms of periodontal (gum) disease:

  • Bleeding gums
  • Loosening teeth
  • Persistent bad breath (halitosis)
  • Receding gum line
  • Red and puffy gums
  • Developing spaces between teeth
  • Pus discharge around teeth and gums

How Do You Treat Periodontal (Gum) Disease?:

If you have an absolutely healthy mouth I recommend the normal every six month dental cleaning and exam schedule that everyone knows they should adhere to. In the early stages of gum disease, most treatment involves a special, deeper cleaning called scaling and root planing, which removes plaque and tartar around the tooth and smoothes the root surfaces. This differs from a normal cleaning in that we are more deeply and aggressively cleaning the gum tissue pockets and root surfaces which may require topical or localized anesthetic to maintain your comfort. Antibiotics or locally placed antimicrobials may be used to supplement the effects of scaling and root planing, and proper daily cleaning can achieve a maintainable result. However, more advanced cases may require surgical treatment, which involves cutting the gums and removing the hardened plaque build-up and recontouring  the damaged bone. Under certain conditions a replacement bone can also be grafted into a site where your bone had previously been lost. The surgical treatment is also designed to smooth the root surfaces and reposition the gum tissue so it will be easier for you to keep clean.

For patients who have been diagnosed with and treated for periodontal disease, I will place you on a more accelerated cleaning schedule every 2 to 4 months, called periodontal maintenance, to aggressively arrest the progression of the disease.  Periodontal maintenance varies greatly from a regular cleaning in that it is more frequent, all your teeth receive a thorough periodontal evaluation at each visit, and my dental hygienist or I will reassess if any gum disease progression has returned. Often we will use a combination of traditional cleaning instrumentation and the more advanced ultrasonic cleaning therapy to achieve maximum results.