Periodontal health should matter to you.

Periodontists are in a specialized field of dentistry, and have extensive training in preventing, diagnosing and treating periodontal disease, as well as surgical techniques. Our periodontics care teams are experts in periodontal treatments and dental implants. Learn more about the field of periodontal health and why it matters for your well-being:
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PERIODONTAL (GUM) DISEASE

What Is Periodontal Disease/Gum Disease?

Gum disease is an infection of the tissues that surround and support your teeth. Because gum disease is usually painless, you may not know you have it. Also referred to as periodontal disease, gum disease is caused by the bacteria that is constantly forming on our teeth.

Here Are Some Warning Signs That Can Signal a Problem

  • Gums that bleed easily
  • Red, swollen, tender gums
  • Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
  • Persistent bad breath or bad taste
  • Permanent teeth that are loose or separating
  • Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • Any change in the fit of partial dentures

There are many factors that increase the risk of developing gum disease, including smoking, pregnancy and diabetes. It is important to visit South Texas Periodontal Associates, if you suspect you have gum disease because the sooner you treat it the better.

 

The Early Stage of Gum Disease: Gingivitis

If you have gingivitis, your gums may become red, swollen and bleed easily. At this stage, the disease is still reversible and can usually be eliminated by a professional cleaning at your dental office, followed by daily brushing and flossing.

 

Advanced Gum Disease: Periodontitis

Chronic periodontitis can lead to the loss of tissue and bone that support the teeth and it may become more severe over time. If it does, your teeth will feel loose and start moving around in your mouth. It usually gets worse slowly, but there can be periods of rapid progression.

Aggressive periodontitis is a highly destructive form of periodontal disease that occurs in patients who are otherwise healthy. Common features include rapid loss of tissue and bone and may occur in localized areas or in the entire mouth. Periodontal disease cannot be cured, however, we have measures to help slow or stop the progression.

Research between systemic diseases and periodontal diseases is ongoing. While a link is not conclusive, some studies indicate that severe gum disease may be associated with several other health conditions such as diabetes or stroke.

Regular dental checkups and periodontal examinations are very important. The treatment methods that our dentists diagnose will depend upon the type of disease and how far the condition has progressed. Good dental care at home is essential to help keep periodontal disease from becoming more serious.

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OVERALL HEALTH AND GUM DISEASE

Bacteria and plaque do not only threaten the condition of your teeth and gums; they are also a serious danger to your overall health. A few of the most common issues that patients with advanced gum disease experience include diabetes, heart disease and various systemic diseases that can threaten not only your quality of life, but be terminal in the end. Researchers have found that it is not the bacteria itself that causes a problem with a dental patient’s health, but the inflammation that is caused by the bacteria that causes the problems.

Diabetes and Gum Disease

Diabetes and gum disease are directly related. If you have diabetes, you are at a higher risk of contracting gum disease than someone that does not have diabetes. In reverse, if you have gum disease and diabetes, your blood sugar levels could be much more difficult to keep stable. Advanced stages of periodontal disease have a direct impact on your blood sugar levels, causing them to elevate. This means that your body has to work harder to handle the higher levels of blood sugar, making it difficult to avoid other serious complications as a result.

 

Heart Disease and Gum Disease

The American Academy of Periodontology has released findings stating that those patients with advanced stages of periodontal disease are at two times the risk of contracting heart disease than those without periodontal disease. It is important to note that the plaque on your teeth and in your arteries is not directly related. The danger of contracting heart disease in conjunction with gum disease is due to the bacteria levels found in the blood of certain patients that directly correlates to the risk of clogged arteries in the neck, leading to the risk of heart attack or stroke. In addition, patients with pre-existing heart conditions are at risk for serious complications while undergoing dental procedures to eliminate gum disease. In these cases, antibiotics are necessary before and after the procedure in order to prevent the spread of infection.

 

Systemic Disease and Gum Disease

There are various diseases that are also directly related to periodontal disease including osteoporosis, respiratory diseases and even cancer.

  • Osteoporosis — This disease is directly related because of the risk of bone loss in the body. Oftentimes patients with osteoporosis also deal with bone loss in the mouth, causing them to lose teeth. Studies have found, however, that carefully controlling the gum disease can help to diminish the risk of bone loss in the jaw.
  • Respiratory Disease — Bacteria is easily inhaled into a person’s lungs, making it difficult to fight off lung illnesses if your system is already depleted. This is a serious issue for those patients fighting COPD or those with chronic pneumonia. If your lungs are not in perfect health, they can have a hard time fighting the germs brought in through inhalation, making it easy to suffer complications and breathing difficulties.
  • Cancer — A study conducted by Harvard University showed the relationship between gum disease and an increased cancer risk. In that study, it was proven that men have a 63 percent higher risk of contracting pancreatic cancer if they have gum disease. In addition, everyone is at a higher risk for kidney, lung and blood cancers, even non-smokers if they have gum disease.

 

Gum Disease and the Risks for Women

Women go through many hormonal times in their life, each of which affects the health of their gums. Even in puberty, girls can suffer from sensitive, bleeding and inflamed gums as a result of the influx of hormones that are experienced during that time. Later on in life, women are at risk for gum disease as they go through menstruation periods, pregnancy and finally, menopause. The constant change in hormones makes it necessary to see a dentist often to determine the health of a woman’s gums, allowing her to take necessary precautions and/or treatment to help their gums.

 

Gum Disease and the Risks for Children

Children are at risk for gum disease, even at a young age. Some kids are subjected to chronic gingivitis as a result of a systemic disease that they already have. Other kids suffer from gum disease when their hormones are going through changes, including during puberty. A continual examination and evaluation of your child’s mouth during every stage of their life is essential to rule out the risk of gum disease and its issues in children. In addition, starting your children on a regular brushing, flossing and dental checkup schedule is the best thing that you can do to ensure optimal dental health for your children.

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Periodontal Maintenance and Cleaning

Prophy (Regular Cleanings)

A prophy includes a series of procedures where plaque, calculus and stain are removed from all surfaces of the teeth above the gum line. This is done with hand instruments, ultrasonic scalers, and coronal polishing. Only a licensed dental professional is qualified to determine the need for oral prophylaxis. Only a dentist, dental hygienist or trained dental assistant can perform the procedure.

Periodontal Maintenance

A periodontal maintenance procedure (PMP) is defined as a procedure that is recommended following periodontal treatment (such as scaling and root planing) and continues at varying intervals, determined by the clinical evaluation of the dentist.

These intervals can be as frequent as every two months and they can be extended as long as six months, depending on the patient. Keeping up your PMP interval is important because periodontal disease can recur without adequate follow-up.

PMP includes removal of plaque and tartar above and below the gums, scaling and root planing of specific areas, and polishing. PMP is always completed following active periodontal treatment such as scaling and root planing or more extensive gum surgery.

 

Scaling and Root Planing

Scaling and Root Planing is a special type of treatment that goes deeper BELOW the gum line to remove contaminated debris and bacteria, most often performed on patients with active periodontitis.

RESTORE YOUR SMILE

As your periodontist in San Antonio, TX, we have two locations proudly restoring healthy smiles – one on the north side near US 281 and Loop 1604, and one northwest just off Loop 410.