Periodontal (Gum) Disease

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If you have been recently diagnosed with periodontal gum disease, you may be feeling concerned about the health of your teeth and mouth, and the future dental care that will be required. Gaining an understanding of this disease will help you make good choices in your oral health hygiene and dental care regime. Based in Brooklyn, New York, Dr. Phillip Frank has extensive experience in working with patients suffering from periodontal gum disease. He strives to educate his patients in the best way to combat this disease, and offers his dental practice as a support system to allow his patients to gain control of their oral health.

Periodontitis is actually a set of chronic inflammatory diseases that affect the periodontium (the tissues that surround and support the teeth) and the bone that supports the teeth. Plaque, the sticky film of bacteria that forms on the teeth, provides a perfect home to microorganisms in our mouths. Periodontitis is caused by these microorganisms and the body’s overly aggressive immune response to them. The breakdown of the gums and progressive bone loss of this disease can lead to the loosening and eventual loss of teeth. The effects of tooth loss can be devastating for health, social, and emotional reasons, thus Dr. Frank works closely with his patients to slow the progress of the disease and prevent tooth loss.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Early symptoms of periodontal gum disease often go unnoticed, with patients often waiting to seek help after more serious symptoms occur. Caught at an early stage, the disease can be easily managed. As such, regular dental appointments will allow your dentist to detect any early warning signs of periodontitis. Symptoms of the disease include:

  • Redness or bleeding of the gums while brushing your teeth, flossing, or biting into hard food (unfortunately, many patients don’t recognize this early symptom as the bleeding is typically painless, leading patients to believe the bleeding is harmless)
  • Recurrent gum swelling, which may be accompanied by redness and tenderness
  • Spitting out blood after brushing your teeth
  • Halitosis (bad breath) and a metallic taste that persists in the mouth
  • Gum recession, which contributes to the appearance of lengthened teeth
  • Deep pockets between teeth and gums where gum loss has occurred
  • Loose teeth
  • Tooth loss

Healthy gingiva (gum tissue) - Periodontal ligament and bone, anchor teeth firmly in place.

Periodontitis (diseased gum tissue) - Occurs when plaque and calculus are present; causing infection, and creating pockets which permit additional plaque to accumulate below the gingiva.

If your dentist suspects that you may have periodontal gum disease, he will use a probe to examine the soft tissues surrounding the teeth and take x-rays to evaluate the extent of bone loss below the gums. Periodontitis is broken into seven classifications, with varying levels of severity. The first classification is known as gingivitis, which encompasses the beginning stages of gum disease. In the most severe classifications of the disease, the damage is typically irreversible, so it all efforts must be made to slow the disease from the outset.

Prevention and Management
Good oral hygiene lowers the likelihood of being diagnosed with periodontal gum disease. The cornerstone of good oral hygiene is daily and consistent cleaning of the teeth – brushing at least twice daily, and flossing at least once daily. In addition, maintain annual or bi-annual visits to your dentist for cleanings and examinations are crucial to monitoring tooth and gum health. During these visits, your dentist may recommend additional preventative measures, such as antiseptic mouthwashes and other medications.

After a diagnosis of periodontitis, it becomes even more important that you maintain an excellent oral health regimen. Periodontitis is a chronic inflammatory disease that will require a lifelong adherence to the oral health regimen recommended by your dentist in order to maintain the health of the affected teeth and prevent the disease from progressing further. Additionally, you may be advised to undergo a deep cleaning process known as “root planning and scaling.” This treatment can be administered at the beginning stages of the disease (gingivitis) and is often successful at halting the progression of periodontal disease. The treatment involves removing calculus from the tooth and a thin layer of the root that is infected with the bacteria that causes bone loss.

Other Things to Consider
Studies have shown a strong correlation between periodontal gum disease and diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Diabetes is likely a contributing factor to periodontitis, as is smoking. As periodontitis has been linked to increased inflammation in the body, doctors and scientists believe that the condition may trigger other diseases and disorders, ranging from memory impairment and heart disease to erectile dysfunction. Understanding the condition and working with your dentist to put together an effective treatment plan is crucial to maintaining your overall health.

Many patients feel anxious about a diagnosis of periodontitis and the dental procedures that may follow. At Broadway Dental Services, Dr. Phillip Frank has created an office that focuses on the patient’s comfort and offers a soothing, relaxed environment. With extensive experience working in the Brooklyn community, Dr. Frank offers you the best care close to home. While regular dental appointments will be required, you can expect the best experience possible with Dr. Frank.