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Causes of Periodontal Disease

Periodontal (gum) disease, which is also known as periodontal disease and periodontitis, is a progressive disease which if left untreated may result in tooth loss.  Gum disease begins with the inflammation and irritation of the gingival tissues which surround and support the teeth.  The cause of this inflammation is the toxins found in plaque which cause an ongoing bacterial infection.

The bacterial infection colonizes in the gingival tissue and deep pockets form between the teeth and the gums.  If treated promptly by a periodontist, the effects of mild inflammation (known as gingivitis) are completely reversible.  However, if the bacterial infection is allowed to progress, periodontal disease begins to destroy the gums and the underlying jawbone; promoting tooth loss.  In some cases, the bacteria from this infection can travel to other areas of the body via the bloodstream.

Common Causes of Gum Disease

There are genetic and environmental factors involved in the onset of gum disease, and in many cases the risk of developing periodontitis can be significantly lowered by taking preventative measures.

Here are some of the most common causes of gum disease:

  • Poor dental hygiene - Preventing dental disease starts at home with good oral hygiene and a balanced diet.  Prevention also includes regular dental visits which include exams, cleanings, and x-rays.  A combination of excellent home care and professional dental care will ensure and preserve the natural dentition and supporting bony structures.  When bacteria and calculus (tartar) are not removed, the gums and bone around the teeth become affected by bacteria toxins and can cause gingivitis or periodontitis, which can lead to tooth loss.

  • Tobacco use – Research has indicated that smoking and tobacco use is one of the most significant factors in the development and progression of gum disease.  In addition to smokers experiencing a slower recovery and healing rate, smokers are far more likely to suffer from calculus (tartar) build up on teeth, deep pockets in the gingival tissue and significant bone loss.

  • Genetic predisposition – Despite practicing rigorous oral hygiene routines, as much as 30% of the population may have a strong genetic predisposition to gum disease.  These individuals are six times more likely to develop periodontal disease than individuals with no genetic predisposition.  Genetic tests can be used to determine susceptibility and early intervention can be performed to keep the oral cavity healthy.

  • Pregnancy and menopause – During pregnancy, regular brushing and flossing is critical. Hormonal changes experienced by the body can cause the gum tissue to become more sensitive, rendering them more susceptible to gum disease.

  • Chronic stress and poor diet – Stress lowers the ability of the immune system to fight off disease, which means bacterial infections may possibly beat the body’s defense system.  Poor diet or malnutrition can also lower the body’s ability to fight periodontal infections, as well as negatively affecting the health of the gums.

  • Diabetes and underlying medical issues – Many medical conditions can intensify or accelerate the onset and progression of gum disease including respiratory disease, heart disease, arthritis and osteoporosis.  Diabetes hinders the body’s ability to utilize insulin which makes the bacterial infection in the gums more difficult to control and cure.

  • Grinding teeth – The clenching or grinding of the teeth can significantly damage the supporting tissue surrounding the teeth.  Grinding one’s teeth is usually associated with a “bad bite” or the misalignment of the teeth.  When an individual is suffering from gum disease, the additional destruction of gingival tissue due to grinding can accelerate the progression of the disease.

  • Medication – Many drugs including oral contraceptive pills, heart medicines, anti-depressants and steroids affect the overall condition of teeth and gums; making them more susceptible to gum disease.  Steroid use promotes gingival overgrowth, which makes swelling more commonplace and allows bacteria to colonize more readily in the gum tissue.

Treatment of Gum Disease

Periodontists specialize in the treatment of gum disease and the placement of dental implants.  A periodontist can perform effective cleaning procedures in deep pockets such as scaling and root planing, and also prescribe antibiotic and antifungal medications to treat infection and halt the progression of the disease.

In the case of tooth loss, the periodontist is able to perform tissue grafts to promote natural tissue regeneration, and insert dental implants if a tooth or several teeth are missing.  Where gum recession causes a “toothy” looking smile, the periodontist can recontour the gingival tissue to create an even and aesthetically pleasing appearance.

Preventing periodontal disease is critical in preserving the natural dentition.  Addressing the causes of gum disease and discussing them with your dentist will help prevent the onset, progression, and recurrence of periodontal disease.

If you have any questions or concerns about the causes or treatments pertaining to gum disease, please ask your dentist.

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Testimonials

"I have been seeing Dr. Butler and his staff at BridgeCreek Prosthetic Dentistry for over five
years for regular dentistry and other oral health issues. Dr. Butler's approach to dentistry has
been perfect for my needs, as he understand and treats serious problems when they arise,
but also takes a conservative approach when it is warranted, and does not perform
unnecessary treatments or interventions. This has saved me not only significant sums of
money over what other care providers recommended for my oral health needs, but has also
saved me from a lot of unnecessary procedures and the pain and inconvenience related
thereto.

I would recommend Bridgecreek Prosthetic Dentistry to anyone, no matter what level of oral
health care you need."

J. Swift

Texas A & M
Texas Health Science Center
Baylor College of Dentistry

April 25, 2013

Dr. Dennis Waguespack, DDS

For some reason I cannot explain why I wanted to write you and Baylor College of Dentistry a letter. I am not good at letter writing, so I hope you understand, I am just trying to express my good feelings and appreciation of the professional service I received over the last year or so.

I have been attending the Baylor College of Dentistry for twenty years and been very pleased with all the services. About two years ago, I reached an important decision concerning the reconstruction of my entire mouth. After some careful and professional consulting with Dr. Nagy, we decided to proceed with a complete restoration of all my mouth.

I was very lucky to be picked / assigned to you.

I just wanted you and Baylor to know how pleased I am with all the extensive work you have performed on me for over a year. I now have totally functional teeth, as well as better aesthetics than anytime in my life. I am proud to smile and show all of my new teeth.

Dr. Waguespack, I wish you the very best in your new practice in Denver. I am so very pleased with your professionalism standards, perfect work, and your leadership with my issues. I would highly recommend you to anyone needing dentistry attention.


Regards

Edwin Stanaland

Edwin Stanaland

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