Periodontics is the specialty of dentistry that studies the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the diseases or abnormalities that affect the tissues supporting the teeth. The main periodic diseases are gingivitis and periodontitis.
Periodontitis is the leading cause of tooth loss in the world (3 in 4 people suffer from it). It is a bacterial disease that affects the gums and the bones that support the teeth. It can be caused by redness, bleeding and swelling of the gums while brushing. It also causes bad breath, gum recession and teeth mobility.
Periodontitis is related to other systemic diseases: diabetes, acute myocardial infarction (heart attack), premature deliveries and aspiration pneumonia. The treatment consists of removing the bacteria that causes gingivitis/periodontitis, stopping the progression of the disease, and in some cases regenerating the lost bone. There are also other conditions when the periodontist can use this method, even if it is not related to periodontitis, for example if the patient has an exceeding or receding gum line.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT PERIODONTICS
What causes periodontitis?
The most common reason the gums become infected is because of bacteria. In the mouth there are over 600 different types of bacteria and many of them are potentially harmful to the tissues that support the teeth. The bacterium that lives in the mouth is deposited on the surface between the teeth and the gums, forming plaque. The seriousness of the lesions caused by bacteria during periodontitis depends on the susceptibility of the individual, which is genetically determined.
Is gum disease hereditary?
The main cause of periodontitis is individual susceptibility, which is a genetic trait. It is a misconception that pre-disposition alone can cause periodontitis, there also has to be bacteria present in order for the disease to develop. Often the people who develop periodontitis, especially the more severe cases, find that their parents or siblings are affected as well, which also points to the hereditary nature of the disease. However, because it is so common some people don’t consider it hereditary, but rather a coincidence, that there is such a high occurrence in one family. Therefore, and also considering that at the moment there is little we can do to modify genetic disposition, the best way to prevent and treat periodontitis is to control bacterial plaque.
Why does my periodontist suggest that I stop smoking?
Although tobacco is not capable of directly causing gum disease, it does aggravate the evolution of it and reduces the effectiveness of treatment. The ways in which tobacco aggravates the evolution of the disease is by reducing the amount of blood that is sent to the tissues in the gums, and as a result reducing the body’s defense against bacteria.
Is there a cure for this disease?
Basically, yes. A specialist can plan out the phases of the treatment that is necessary to overcome this disease. Following the return of tissue after the treatment, it is of upmost importance that the patient continues to follow the regime that the doctor outlines in order to maintain the results.