Periodontitis is a bacterial infection of the gums. It often starts out without pain but can become painful. This infection occurs when the plaque missed when brushing and flossing goes into the gum. The plaque absorbs minerals from your saliva to become a hard calculus (tarter) on the teeth. The plaque and calculus destroys the periodontal ligament that holds the tooth in the bone, then eventually destroys the bone around the root. This can lead to bleeding gums, exposed root surfaces, sensitive teeth, higher risk of root cavities, bad breath, loose teeth, gum abscess, and even TMJ pain (because the lymph nodes get inflamed and can cause TMJ pain in some people). Dr. Pierson has treated gum disease and used PBM (photo bio modulation, formerly known as cold laser therapy) which has resulted in many patients having reduced TMJ pain when that TMJ pain is being caused by the inflammation the periodontitis can cause.
Periodontitis is usually treated with scaling and root planning then periodontal maintenance visits and excellent home care by the patient. When people do not respond to the treatment as well as hoped, Dr. Pierson also may recommend localized time release antibiotic treatment and the use of Perio Protect Trays.
Please be aware that the bacteria and inflammatory products associated with periodontal disease has been linked to higher risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke; has been linked to diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, low birth weight in pregnant women, microvascular disease of the eye and kidney, and though more research is needed may also contribute to higher risk of certain cancers and Alzheimer’s disease.
When it was first found that there was a link of periodontitis to systemic health problems, it was the link to increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Many medical researchers doubted this link and a national organization that represents cardiologists put out an article that basically said the dental researchers who found the link did not know what they were talking about. Well, as more research was done, the evidence could not be clearer that the link of periodontitis to cardiovascular disease is real. As a result, later that same national organization that criticized the dental researchers put out a statement that flossing was the most important thing one could do for cardiovascular health. I agree that flossing is important; however, I think their statement about the importance of flossing may be overstated and that they were, in a way, apologizing for the previous harsh statements. There is no longer any dispute that treating periodontitis is important not just for the health of your teeth and gums, but also for the health of your whole body; especially if you have or are at risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Abbott Family Dentistry, LLC
1601 Abbott Road, Suite 102, Anchorage, AK 99507 US
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