Periodontist.co.nz

Your guide to oral care and oral problems !

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Periodontal diseases (also called periodontitis) are those diseases that affect one or more of the periodontal tissues:

1. alveolar bone
2. periodontal ligament
3. cementum
4. gingiva

While many different diseases affect the tooth-supporting structures, plaque-induced inflammatory lesions make up the vast majority of periodontal diseases and have traditionally been divided into two categories:

1. gingivitis or
2. periodontitis.

While in some sites or individuals, gingivitis never progresses to periodontitis, data indicates that gingivitis always precedes periodontitis.

Plaque, also known as a biofilm, when examined under a microscope, is made of thousands and thousands of bacteria. There are many different types of microbes contained in the biofilm, one of the major ones being porphyromonas. Since a microbe is a living organism, it maintains some of the same properties that we do to survive. Porphyromonas have a life cycle, they have a digestive system, and they reproduce. So if we think about this, bacteria have to eat to survive, plus they also have to eliminate wastes just like we do, and they are constantly reproducing. The average person will eat three meals a day leaving behind plenty of food particles for plaque to feast on. Naturally, as humans, bacteria are always present in the oral cavity. However, when plaque is not removed on a daily basis, and levels kept down to a minimum, that is when the trouble begins.

The failure to remove plaque on a daily basis leaves an individual with a mouth full of bacteria, rotten food, fecal matter, bone loss, and eventually, tooth loss. Bacteria are constantly eating, and disposing of fecal matter on, and around teeth which is what causes all of the destruction and foul odors in a person with gum disease. Bone is considered to be the foundation and supporting structure of teeth. Bacteria will make themselves right at home in the spaces between your teeth, constantly devouring what bone is available. As bacteria eat away at the foundation, teeth will become loose and eventually either fall out on their own, or have to be extracted by a Doctor of Medical Dentistry. This process is not something that happens over night, but is a result of long time neglect of one’s personal oral hygiene.

Most individuals don’t take dental care seriously and fail to see a dental professional regularly. It is recommended that a dental prophylaxis and thorough examination of the mouth be done every six months, which will prevent plaque buildup on teeth. Plaque or bacteria, if left for a long period of time, eventually die off. Dead plaque hardens and calcifies and is then referred to as tartar, or calculus. Once the calculus builds up around the teeth, in between them, and the gums, it causes the gums to pull away from the teeth. When the gums pull away from the teeth, it creates a pocket which allows food and debris to accumulate inside the pocket, harboring even more bacteria. This action also allows bacteria to enter the bloodstream. Studies have shown that heart disease is almost twice as high in people with gum disease. Studies have also shown that the most common strain of bacteria found in dental plaque may cause blood clots. When blood clots escape into the bloodstream, there is a relation to increased risk of heart attacks, and other heart illnesses.