Periodontics

Periodontal Diseases & Their Prevention

Periodontal diseases are infections of the gums which gradually destroy the support of your natural teeth. Different conditions require different treatment approaches. Dental plaque is the primary cause of gum disease in genetically susceptible individuals. Daily brushing and flossing will improve most periodontal conditions.

Why is oral hygiene so important?

Past the age of 35 adults lose more teeth to gum diseases, (Periodontal Disease) than from cavities. Three out of four adults are affected at some time in their life. The best way to prevent cavities and Periodontal Diseases is by good tooth brushing and flossing techniques, performed daily.

Periodontal Disease and Decay are both caused by Bacterial Plaque. Plaque is a colorless film, which sticks to your teeth at the gum line. Plaque constantly grows on your teeth and under the gum. By thorough daily brushing and flossing you can remove these germs and help prevent Periodontal Disease.

How Did I Get Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal diseases can be accelerated by a number of different factors. However, it is mainly caused by the bacteria found in dental plaque, a sticky colorless film that constantly forms on your teeth. If not carefully removed by daily brushing and flossing, plaque hardens into a rough, porous substance known as calculus (or tartar).

Bacteria found in plaque produces toxins or poisons that irritate the gums, which may cause them to turn red, swell and bleed easily. If this irritation is prolonged, the gums separate from the teeth, causing pockets (spaces) to form. As periodontal diseases progress, the supporting gum tissue and bone that holds teeth in place deteriorate. If left untreated, this leads to tooth loss.

Preventing Gum Disease

The best way to prevent gum disease is effective daily brushing and flossing as well as regular professional examinations and cleanings. Unfortunately, even with the most diligent home dental care, people still can develop some form of periodontal disease. Once this disease starts, professional intervention is necessary to prevent its progress.

Other Important Factors Affecting the Health of Your Gums:

  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Stress
  • Clenching and grinding teeth
  • Medication
  • Poor nutrition
  • Pregnancy and puberty

Heart & Periodontal Disease

It's possible that if you have periodontal disease, you may be at risk for cardiovascular disease...

For a long time we've known that bacteria may affect the heart.

Now evidence is mounting that suggests people with periodontal disease - a bacterial infection, may be more at risk for heart disease, and have nearly twice the risk of having a fatal heart attack, than patients without periodontal disease.

While more research is needed to confirm how periodontal bacteria may affect your heart, one possibility is that periodontal bacteria enter the blood through inflamed gums and cause small blood clots that contribute to clogged arteries.

Another possibility is that the inflammation caused by periodontal disease contributes to the buildup of fatty deposits inside the heart arteries.

One out of every five Americans has one or more types of heart disease. If you are one of these Americans, or if you are at risk for periodontal disease, see a periodontist for a periodontal evaluation - because healthy gums may lead to a healthier body.

Diabetes & Periodontal Disease

The two-way relationship between periodontal disease and diabetes...

For years we've known that people with diabetes are more likely to have periodontal disease than people without diabetes.

Recently, research has emerged suggesting that the relationship goes both ways - periodontal disease may make it more difficult for people who have diabetes to control their blood sugar.

More research is needed to confirm how periodontal disease can make it more difficult to control blood sugar. What we do know is that severe periodontal disease can increase blood sugar, contributing to increased periods of time when your body functions with a high blood sugar. And, as diabetic, you know that this puts you at increased risk for diabetic complications. In other words, controlling your periodontal disease may help you control your diabetes.

If you are among the nearly 16 million Americans in the U.S. who live with diabetes, or are at risk for periodontal disease, see a periodontist for an evaluation - because healthy gums may lead to a healthier body.

Pregnancy & Periodontal Disease

It's possible that if you have periodontal disease and are pregnant, you may be at risk for having a premature, low birthweight baby...

For a long time we've known that many risk factors contribute to mothers having babies that are born prematurely at a low birthweight - smoking, alcohol use, drug use and infections.

Now evidence is mounting that suggest a new risk factor - periodontal disease. Pregnant women who have periodontal disease may be seven times more likely to have a baby that is born too early or too small.

More research is needed to confirm how periodontal disease may affect pregnancy outcomes. What we do know is that periodontal disease is an infection and all infections are cause for concern among pregnant women because they pose a risk to the health of the baby.

If you are planning to become pregnant or are at risk for periodontal disease be sure to include a periodontal evaluation with a periodontist as part of your prenatal care - because healthy gums may lead to a healthier body and a healthy baby.

Respiratory & Periodontal Disease

It's possible that if you have periodontal disease, you may be at risk for respiratory disease...

For a long time we've known that people who smoke, are elderly, or have other health problems that suppress the immune system, are at increased risk for the development of respiratory diseases like pneumonia, bronchitis, emphysema and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

More research is needed to confirm how periodontal disease may put people at increased risk for respiratory disease. What we do know is that infections in the mouth, like periodontal disease, are associated with increased risk of respiratory infection.

If you are at risk for respiratory disease or periodontal disease see a periodontist for a periodontal evaluation - because healthy gums may lead to a healthier body.

Brushing and Flossing

While brushing the outside surfaces of your teeth, position the brush at a 45- degree angle where your gums and teeth meet. Gently move the brush in a circular motion several times using small, gentle strokes. Use light pressure while putting the bristles between the teeth, but not so much pressure that you feel any discomfort.

When you are done cleaning the outside surfaces of all your teeth, follow the same directions while cleaning the inside of the back teeth.

To clean the inside surfaces of the upper and lower front teeth, hold the brush vertically. Make several gentle back-and-forth strokes over each tooth. Don't forget to gently brush the surrounding gum tissue.

Next you will clean the biting surfaces of you teeth. To do this use short, gentle strokes. Change the position of the brush as often as necessary to reach and clean all surfaces. Try to watch yourself in the mirror to make sure you clean each surface. After you are done, rinse vigorously to remove any plaque you might have loosened while brushing.

If you have any pain while brushing or have any questions about how to brush properly please be sure to call the office.

How to Floss

Periodontal disease usually appears between the teeth where you toothbrush can't reach. Flossing is a very effective way to remove plaque from those surfaces. However, it is important to develop the proper technique. The following instructions will help you, but remember, time and practice.

Start with a piece of floss (waxed is easier) about 18' long. Lightly wrap most of the floss around the middle finger of one hand. Wrap the rest of the floss around the middle finger of the other hand.

To clean the upper teeth, hold the floss tightly between the thumb and forefinger of each hand. Gently insert the floss tightly between the teeth using a back-and-forth motion. Don't force the floss or try to snap it in to place. Bring the floss to the gum line then curve it into a C-shape against one tooth. Slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth until you feel light resistance. Move the floss up and down on the side of one tooth. Remember there are two tooth surfaces that need to be cleaned in each space. Continue, and floss each side of all the upper teeth. Be careful not to cut the gum tissue between the teeth. As the floss becomes soiled, turn from one finger to the other to get a fresh section.

To clean between the bottom teeth, guide the floss using the forefinger of both hands. Don't forget the back side of the last tooth on both sides, upper and lower.

When you are done, rinse vigorously with water to remove plaque and food particles. Don't be alarmed if during the first week of flossing your gums bleed or are a little sore. If your gums hurt while flossing you could be doing it too hard or pinching the gum. As you floss daily and remove the plaque your gums will heal and the bleeding should stop.

Caring for Sensitive Teeth

Sometimes after dental treatment, teeth are sensitive to hot and cold. This shouldn't last long, but only is the mouth is kept clean. If the mouth is not kept clean the sensitivity will remain and could become more severe. If your teeth are especially sensitive, consult with Dr. Dean. He may recommend a medicated toothpaste or mouth rinse made especially for sensitive teeth.

Choosing Oral Hygiene Products

There are so many products on the market it can become confusing and choosing between all the products can be difficult. Here are some suggestions for choosing dental care products that will work for most patients.

Automatic and "high-tech" electronic toothbrushes are safe and effective for the majority of the patients. Oral irrigators (water spraying devices) will rinse your mouth thoroughly, but will not remove plaque. You need to brush and floss in conjunction with the irrigator.

Some toothbrushes have a rubber tip on the handle, which is used to massage the gums after brushing. There are also tiny brushes (interproximal toothbrushes) that clean between your teeth. If these are used improperly you could injure the gums, so discuss proper use with Dr. Dean.

Fluoride toothpastes and mouth rinses if used in conjunction with brushing and flossing can reduce tooth decay as much as 40%. Remember, these rinses are not recommended for children under six years of age. Tartar control toothpastes will reduce tartar above the gum line, but gum disease starts below the gum line so these products have not been proven to reduce the early stage of gum disease.

Anti-plaque rinses, approved by the American Dental Association, contain agents that may help bring early gum disease under control. Use these in conjunction with brushing and flossing.

Your periodontist is the best person to help you select the right products that are best for you.

Professional Cleaning

Daily brushing and flossing will keep dental calculus to a minimum, but a professional cleaning will remove calculus in places that your toothbrush and floss have missed. Visit your periodontist, as he or she is an important part of your program to prevent gum disease. Keep your teeth for your lifetime. Be true to them or they'll be false to you!

Patient Information Form


adobe Thiss form require Adobe Acrobat Reader.
Click the Adobe logo to download.