For years, oral health problems were thought to exist on their own, affecting the teeth, gums and, in severe cases, jawbones, but never encroaching on the rest of the body.
We all heard of “gum disease”. Today, in our electronic and informative world, we can “Google” hundreds of references on any subject with a click of a key. But then you have to figure out on your own what information is correct and what is wrong. So, let me help and make it easier for you. By the way, do you have gum disease?
The Gum Disease, also known and often referred to as Periodontal Disease or Periodontitis, which means “the disease of the tissue surrounding teeth”, is a chronic, infectious, contagious, inflammatory, polymicrobial disease with systemic and genetic expression. Let’s dissect that.
This definition tells us that gum disease is an infection caused by a number of different bacteria (polymicrobial). On rare occasions, in some individuals, it can be an acute event with a sudden onset. However, in most cases, the bacteria sets in multiplies and remains in person’s mouth for a long time, sometimes for years (chronic infection). The bacteria are transmitted from one individual to another in saliva, through an intimate contact, food or drinks (contagious disease). Infection of the gums triggers our natural immune response as a protective reaction against invading bacteria, which results in swollen, red and often bleeding and tender gums (inflammation or inflammatory response). The more bacteria grows in the mouth the more they penetrate into the body through small blood vessels, spreading to all tissues and organs. The local inflammation in our gums soon becomes the generalized inflammation throughout our entire body (systemic inflammation). Some people who are genetically predisposed to increased and more pronounced immune response, develop more severe chronic systemic inflammation and, as a result, experience more damage to their own tissues (genetic predisposition and expression). As long as bacteria are present in an individual’s gums the problem remains and the process escalates.
Chronic periodontitis, and thus chronic inflammation within our body, eventually takes its toll. Gradually, as the result of a persistent immune response, many affected internal organs begin to fail. This process is silent and painless. It progresses slowly in afflicted individuals, leading to developing diabetes, cardiovascular problems (heart attacks and strokes), infertility and other systemic complications.
The latest medical research and technology have provided us with the most effective treatment modalities and state-of-the-art equipment. Within the last decade, numerous scientific articles focused on changing the approach to treating periodontal disease.
Periodontitis can be reversed, controlled and managed only by properly identifying and reducing the number of pathogens (harmful, disease-causing bacteria) in the oral cavity. Anything short of that is ineffective, leading to progressive bone loss and more severe infection, repetitive surgeries, extractions of teeth and eventual introduction of dentures or dental implants.
The new, non-surgical approach, which is implemented in our practice to treat periodontal disease, is based on a thorough analysis of each patient’s specific clinical presentation, medical history, thorough evaluation, and test results.
The derived diagnosis allows us to select the most appropriate therapy. The comprehensive, individualized treatment reflects assembled information, pertinent findings and collected data.