What is a periodontal disease?
Periodontal diseases are pathologies that affect the periodontium, that is, the tissues that support the teeth, and are infectious diseases caused by bacteria.
Periodontal Disease is one of the most common pathologies among the population,
however, it is one of the least known. 8 out of every 10 people over the age of 35 have a gum problem.
What types of periodontal diseases are there?
There are two large groups of periodontal diseases. When it affects only the gum, causing a reversible inflammatory process, it is called gingivitis. This superficial gum inflammation can be healed with professional cleaning and increased hygiene. The clearest manifestation of inflammation of the gingiva is bleeding, since a healthy gum does not bleed.
If gingivitis persists for a long time and other factors also occur (genetic, environmental, local, ...), periodontitis (common, though incorrectly, called "pyorrhea") begins. This causes, in addition to the inflammation of the gums already mentioned, a deeper destruction that affects other tissues of the periodontium, such as the alveolar bone, the cementum of the tooth and the periodontal ligament.
Causes of periodontitis
Periodontal diseases are infections caused by bacteria located under the gum, more specifically, between the gum and the tooth. The accumulation of bacteria under the gum in the form of bacterial plaque (dental biofilm), leads to the inflammation of the adjacent tissues, that is, to gingivitis (inflammation of the gum). As long as there is plaque, there will be some degree of gingivitis.
The primary cause of periodontitis is also bacteria in the dental biofilm. Nevertheless, for gingivitis to progress to periodontitis, more factors are needed.
Whenever dental plaque builds up on the gums, gingivitis will occur. However, for gingivitis to progress to periodontitis, there must be other factors such as: genetic, risk (tobacco, stress ...), medications, local factors, oral care, etc.
Consequences of periodontitis
Periodontal diseases can have two types of consequences, locally (in the mouth) and systemically (in the rest of the body). At the local level, the most important consequence is the loss of teeth, which produces effects on aesthetics and on functions such as chewing. In addition, it can cause bleeding gums, bad breath, retraction, tooth mobility, pain (rare) ...
In the rest of the body, the presence of large amounts of bacteria under the gum means that they can pass into the bloodstream, so that directly or through the systemic inflammation they generate, they can affect other parts of the body. In this case, there is an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, risk of premature birth and decompensation of diabetes and others.
Prevention of periodontitis
How can we prevent periodontitis?
The best way to prevent periodontitis is to maintain proper oral hygiene to control plaque levels, but in predisposed individuals, despite proper oral hygiene, the disease may tend to develop.
Personal oral hygiene should be accompanied by regular dental check-ups so that an early diagnosis of the disease can be made should it occur.
How can we control bacterial plaque?
To control plaque in the mouth, we have two types of methods:
- Mechanical methods. They include the normal manual toothbrush and dental floss or interdental brushes.
- Chemical methods. Using mouthwashes for rinsing, toothpastes, gels or sprays. Antiseptic products can be applied to aid mechanical methods to control plaque bacteria.
Proper oral hygiene should be carried out after every meal. In addition, it is necessary to perform regular check-ups with your dentist to check the health status and to take action in case the health status is not maintained, as early detection of periodontal problems simplifies their treatment.