Every hygienist and every dentist in the world has smelled what we will not-so-affectionately refer to as perio breath. It stinks! It is a direct result of gum problems, so let’s talk about what they are and what we can do about them. First, terminology is a problem, so let’s get a few definitions under our belts. Gum disease and pyorrhea are terms that have been around a while, but have been largely supplanted by gingivitis and periodontal disease. Gingivitis means inflammation of the gums while periodontal disease refers to not only gingivitis, but also, bone involvement. When we probe around the teeth at your hygiene appointment, we are looking for signs of bone loss, and thus, periodontal disease.
Although plaque can cause gingivitis, the real villains in periodontal disease are completely different bacteria than those making up plaque. Instead of being clingy and sticky, these periodontal disease bacteria, are swimmers that live in the sulchus of gum tissue that surrounds each tooth. If there is no bone loss, this population of bacteria, as well as the plaque bacteria, can be controlled by brushing and flossing. Once bone loss occurs, we have to do more. If the periodontal disease is not too advanced, it can usually be treated effectively with a deep cleaning – while you are numb – and then every day use of a water pic. However, after once advanced periodontal disease is best treated by surgery.
One of the other contribution factors is tarter – that rock-like substance that sticks to the teeth and can’t be brushed away, or flossed away, or water-picked away. It has to be removed by a hygienist with an ultrasonic scrubber. Strongly enough, not everybody forms tarter and those of us that do are much more susceptible to periodontal disease. You’ve heard it before and you can probably feel this coming, but here it is anyway.
Prevention and early detection are keys to excellent gum health. Come see us and let us evaluate your periodontal health.