WHAT IS PERIODONTAL DISEASE
Periodontal disease, commonly known as the disease of the gums, is a common problem present in many people today with only a portion aware of its existence and some suffering from advanced stages of the disease. It has also been shown that the severity of periodontal disease increases with age.
In a study by Lim LP et al (2003) on Singaporeans, it was found that
1. Over 70% of the population has some form of periodontal disease.
2. At least 20% of the adult population shows advance stage of the disease.
3. Periodontal disease is more severe in the elderly, intellectually disabled and the diabetic patients.
Unknown to many, periodontal disease affects the structures that support the teeth; the gums become inflamed, and the bone surrounding the tooth gradually gets weaker and lost. As a result, the teeth become loosened and ultimately lost.
WHAT CAUSES PERIODONTAL DISEASE
The main culprit related to periodontal disease is the accumulation of masses of bacteria (plaque) on teeth surfaces. Initially, plaque accumulate after meal, and can be brushed and flossed away. However, due to ineffective or incorrect cleaning of the teeth, dental plaque containing bacteria masses and food debris start to build up and irritate the surrounding gums. As the initial soft dental plaque age, they become hardened to form calculus which makes them even harder to be brushed off. The bacteria produce infection products that irritate the gums and supporting bone, causing inflammation and elicit a response from them that result in destruction of bone and tissues.
Contributing factors include poor oral hygiene, poor nutrition, smoking, heavy drinking and systemic conditions such as diabetes mellitus, pregnancy.
Some of the signs and symptoms of periodontal disease that can affect you are:
1. Bleeding gums
2. Gingival recession
3. Shaky teeth
4. Halitosis – Bad Breath
5. Drifting of teeth
6. Gum/Teeth pain
7. Gingival Boils / Abscesses
WHAT CAN YOU DO
The disease can be localized or generalized with varying degree of severity at different sites. Good news gingivitis is reversible at the early stage with no major loss of structure or function and most gingivitis does not lead to periodontitis. On the other hand, periodontitis may be arrested to prevent its progression.
Maintenance of good oral hygiene and brushing the teeth correctly is as important as regular check up at the dentists. It is prudent to visit the dentist even more frequently as indicated if you already have a pre-exisiting medical condition such as diabetes mellitus.