Periodontal is defined as around a tooth, and periodontics is a branch of dentistry focusing on the tissues and structures that surround teeth, including the gums and bone. Periodontal disease, also called gum disease, is a serious inflammatory disorder that can lead to tooth loss if not treated. It begins with an infection called gingivitis, and it can quickly progress to a more advanced stage known as periodontitis.
Are you at risk?
Anyone can develop periodontal disease; it is actually much more common than you might expect. According to the Canadian Dental Association, approximately 70 percent of all Canadians will develop it at some point in their lives. A number of factors can increase your chances of developing periodontal disease. These include:
- Age – Gum disease is most common after the age of 65
- Tobacco use – This includes smoking and smokeless tobacco products
- Genetics – If members of your immediate family have gum disease, your risk may be greater
- Stress – Research has shown that stress hampers the natural immune system
- Medication – Certain prescription medicines, such as oral contraceptives, can have an impact on your dental health
- Bruxism – Grinding or clenching your teeth
The best method of treatment depends on the severity of the disease. In the earliest stage, known as gingivitis, scaling and root planing, along with diligent oral hygiene, is usually sufficient. Unfortunately, few people notice the problem at this stage because the symptoms are so subtle. Gingivitis may cause swollen gums that bleed easily, but it is rarely painful.
Periodontitis, the more advanced stage of the disease, may require more aggressive treatment such as gum surgery or laser therapy. These procedures remove the diseased tissue and help the gums re-attach to the teeth. If not controlled, periodontal disease can cause abscesses, decay, and eventual tooth loss. Research in the recent years indicate a strong connection between gum disease and serious health conditions such as coronary disease and diabetes.
Early detection is essential to minimizing the potential damage from this condition. If you haven't seen a dentist recently, schedule an appointment to visit us at one of our convenient dental centres in the Greater Toronto areas of North York, Pickering, or Scarborough.
Contact us today.