FAQ’S – Department of Periodontology
Q1. What is periodontal diseases?
A1. Periodontal (gum) diseases, including gingivitis and periodontitis are serious infection that left untreated can lead to tooth loss. The word periodontal literally means” around the tooth”. Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection that affects the gums and bones supporting the teeth. Periodontal disease can affect one tooth or many teeth. It begins when the bacteria in plaque (the stick, colorless film that constantly forms on your teeth) causes the gums to become inflammed.
Q2. How do I know if I have periodontal disease?
A2. Periodontal disease is often painless and develops slowly and progressively. Sometimes it may develop quite rapidly. Unless you see your dentist for regular checkups you may not realize that you have periodontal disease until your gums and bones have been severely damaged to the point of tooth loss. Periodontal disease can occur at any age. Infact, more than half of people over age 18 shows sign of at least the early stages of some type of periodontal disease. Gingivitis is the earliest stage of periodontal disease and affects only the gum tissue. At this stage it is reversible. If not treated, it could lead to periodontitis, potentially damaging bone and other supporting structures. Such damage can result in mobile teeth.
Q3. What can I expect the first time I have a periodontal evaluation by my dentist or periodontist?
A3. During your first visit your dentist or periodontist will review your complete medical and dental history with you. It is extremely important for your periodontist to know if you are taking any medications or being treated for any conditions that can affect your periodontal status. You will be examined for complete oral and periodontal status. Your periodontist will examine your gums, check to see if there is any gum line recession, assess how your teeth fit together when you bite and check your teeth to see if any are loose. Your periodontist will also take a small measuring instrument and place in between your teeth and gums to determine the depth of those spaces, known as periodontal pockets. This helps your periodontist assess the health of your gums. Radio-graphs (x-rays) may be used to show the bone levels between your teeth to check for possible bone loss
Q4. Is it true that there is a link between periodontal(gum) disease and heart disease?
A4. Studies show periodontal disease can contribute to increase risk of heart attacks and stroke. According to some studies, periodontal diseases (which effects the bone and tissues surrounding your teeth) has proven to be stronger risk factor than any of other conditions usually linked to heart disease (eg- hypertension, high cholesterol, age and gender). Researchers have concluded that the bacteria found in plaque (the primary etiological factors causing periodontal disease) is clearly linked to coronary disease. People with periodontal disease are up to two times as likely to suffer a fatal heart attack and nearly three times more likely to suffer a stroke than those individuals without this disease.
Q5. Is there a relationship between tobacco use and periodontal disease?
A5. Studies have shown that tobacco use may be one of most significant risk factor in development and progression of periodontal disease. Smokers are much more likely to have calculus formed on their teeth compared to non smokers, deeper pockets between the teeth and gums, greater bone loss and tissue that supports the teeth.
Q6. Is it normal for my gums to bleed when I brush my teeth?
A6. No, it is not normal for your gums to bleed when you brush, bleeding gums are one of the signs of gum disease. It is an indication of the beginning of the destructive process involving the supporting tissues around the tooth or possibly some serious systemic problems. The bacteria that causes gingivitis (inflammation of gums) caused due to deposits, irritate your gums and lead to bleeding. If left unchecked, gingivitis can lead to a more serious form of gum disease called periodontitis involving bone surrounding teeth. This long term infection can eventually cause loss of your teeth
Q7. What are warning signs are of gum disease (periodontal disease)?
A7. There are a number of warning signs of gum disease which include the following:
- Red, swollen or tender gums or other pain in your mouth.
- Bleeding gums while brushing, flossing or eating hard food
- Gums that are receding or pulling away from the teeth, causing the teeth to look longer than before
- Mobile or separating teeth
- Pus between your gums and teeth
- Sores in your mouth
- Persistent bad breath
- A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- A change in the fit of partial dentures
Q8. Could any periodontal disease be genetic?
A8. Research prove that up to 30% of population may be genetically susceptible to gum disease. Despite aggressive oral care habits, the people may be six times more likely to develop periodontal disease. Identifying these people with a genetic test before they even show signs of disease and getting them into early interceptive treatment may help them keep their teeth for a life time.
Q9. What can I do to avoid periodontal disease?
A9. To keep your teeth for a life time, you must remove the plaque from your teeth and gums everyday with proper brushing and flossing. Regular dental visits are also important. Daily cleaning will help keep tartar formation to a minimum, but it won’t completely prevent it. A professional cleaning at least twice a year is necessary to remove tartar from places your toothbrush and floss cannot reach or may have missed.
Q10. Am I suppose to brush twice daily?
A10. Yes, we all are suppose to brush twice a day i.e. after every meal. This is in order to flush the food lodged on and in between the teeth to maintain good oral health.
Q11. How to choose a good tooth brush?
A11. A soft bristled tooth brush, with sufficient head length (covering at least two teeth) should be used and changed at first sign of fraying of bristles (happens usually in 2-3 months). Powered tooth brushes are a better choice than manual tooth brushes for anyone who needs assistance for brushing (for example in mentally/physically challenged patients)
Q12. Am I suppose to floss my teeth every day?
A12. Yes, because flossing remove tiny trapped food particles and plaque in between the teeth where tooth brush cannot reach.