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What are periodontal and endodontic diseases? These two problems can cause a wide range of oral health issues such as gingivitis and loose teeth.

Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease, also known as “gum disease,” includes gingivitis and periodontitis, two serious infections that if left untreated can lead to tooth loss. The word periodontal translates to “around the tooth,” so periodontal disease has to do with the specific area around the base of the tooth at the gum line. Essentially, periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection that affects the gums and bone supporting the teeth. Periodontal diseases are usually classified according to their severity. Periodontitis has three stages: initial, moderate, and advanced. These stages range from mild gingivitis (swelling and inflammation), to more severe periodontitis (odor-causing bacteria and infection), and finally acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis, a severe disease of the mouth which can be life threatening.

The first stage of periodontal disease, and the mildest form of gum disease is called gingivitis. In this stage, the gums redden, swell, and bleed easily. There is usually little to no discomfort until you try to floss or brush vigorously, at which time the gums bleed and become tender. Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums surrounding the teeth and is caused by the same bacteria that cause plaque. It is the most common periodontal disease, affecting 90% of the general population. Specifically, gingivitis is an infection that occurs when bacteria invade the soft tissues and bone. These bacteria release damaging toxins that result in inflammation and infection of the gum tissue, as well as encourage plaque to grow. Eventually, the plaque hardens and forms hard deposits called calculus or tartar. In small amounts, the plaque is invisible to the naked eye and relatively harmless. But when left untreated, plaque increases in volume and the amount of harmful bacteria grows.

If left untreated, plaque can spread into the area below the gum line. Toxins produced by the bacteria in plaque irritate the gums. The bacteria, and the toxins they create cause the tissues and bone that support the teeth to break down. One aspect of this destructive process is that the gums begin to separate from the teeth, forming spaces between the teeth and gums (pockets) that become infected. As periodontitis progresses, the pockets deepen and enlarge, and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed by the invading bacteria. Eventually, due to the destructive nature of advanced periodontitis, teeth can become loose and may have to be removed altogether. Additionally, periodontal disease has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, as well as having a premature or low birth weight baby. Remember that this destructive process usually carries very mild symptoms. Periodontal disease can go on for years without pain and without detection unless specific examination procedures are performed on a regular basis. Early detection requires measurement of pockets with a periodontal probe. In some cases, non-surgical treatments and laser therapies will be utilized for the best possible result. These therapies gently remove infected gum tissue and the laser can actually vaporize the infection-causing bacteria.

Effective prevention and treatment is available, but the damage caused as periodontal disease progresses is irreversible and will most likely result in permanent tooth loss. Early detection is crucial to saving your smile! Protect your family from this easily preventable disease. Call our office to schedule an exam for periodontal disease today.

Dental infographic

Gum Disease, Joint Replacement and Infection
Due to the lack of discomfort, many adults are unaware that they have periodontal disease until they experience severe pain or tooth loss. Additionally, the bacteria that cause this bone destroying disease, especially in advanced cases, have been implicated in possible infection of joint replacements.

Patients considering joint replacements should schedule a thorough dental evaluation before undergoing joint replacement surgery. Good oral health prior to joint replacement surgery can help reduce the risk of infection at the replacement site, as well has help you heal with fewer complications.

HIV/AIDS Concerns
A recent nationwide survey of dental patients showed that patient protection was #1 on their list of concerns when it comes to dental care. Some patients have even stopped going to the dentist because of their fear of contracting a chronic illness.

We go to great lengths to ensure the safety and health of our patients. In fact, the dental procedures we perform have never been safer! When safety concerns arose a number of years ago we responded immediately by adopting “universal (standard) precautions.” These precautions involve sterilizing all instruments in dry-heat ovens or steam autoclaves to kill communicable bacteria. Disposable items are also used to ensure proper hygiene.

One thing to keep in mind is that individuals who take certain medications or who suffer from a chronic illness, such as diabetes or HIV, are more susceptible to harmful oral bacteria and should be particularly diligent when it comes to good oral hygiene and regular dental checkups.

Remember: the chance of contracting an infection in the dental chair is extremely remote, but the chance of losing one’s teeth because of lack of proper dental care is extremely likely!

Endodontic Disease
The word “endodontic” comes from the Greek “endo” meaning inside, and “dont” meaning tooth. Endodontics is the field of dentistry interested in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases of the soft tissues inside the tooth, specifically the dentin. These high-calcium tissues are also called “dental pulp” and they make up the bulk of the root canal space. Endodontic treatment is also referred to as “root canal treatment,” or RCT.

Endodontic disease can manifest itself in a wide variety and/or combination of symptoms. Common indications of endodontic disease include:

  • Sensitivity to cold or hot liquids
  • Sensitivity to sweets
  • Pain when biting down
  • Neck, temple, or ear pain associated with a painful tooth
  • Sudden tooth pain
  • Constant, intermittent, severe, or throbbing tooth pain

If you are suffering from any of these symptoms, please visit us. These symptoms might be indicative of root canal disease or another dental problem such as decay, defective fillings, periodontal disease, cracked teeth, or other tooth-related problems.