Why Periodontal Care is Critical
Dr. Anasinski – November 2009
Periodontal care – which refers to the care of the gums – is one of the most vital components of dental hygiene and one that is also significantly important to overall health. But many people do not fully understand the substantial role that periodontal health plays, and how the relationship between healthy gums and trouble-free teeth works. Because of that some may overlook their periodontal hygiene, for example, even though they are careful to maintain clean and sparkling teeth. Eventually, however, unless the gums are well taken care of on a daily basis the teeth with lose their strength, their whiteness, their luster, and their ability to withstand bacterial disease.
The gums or periodontal are comprised of soft tissue that guards and nurtures the teeth. So one of the primary functions of the gums is to buffer and protect the base of the tooth – where the vital root of the tooth is connected to the jaw – so that it is not susceptible to infection. In fact many of the problems that patients experience with their teeth actually begin in the periodontal region, and by being vigilant about caring for the gums it is possible to easily avoid many common tooth problems including decay.
When the gums are not healthy, they will often become swollen, tender, and bleed easily. It is much easier for bacterial infections to attack the the gums and bone which surround and support teeth (periodontium) – which are relatively soft and permeable – than it is for those germs to penetrate the hard enamel of the teeth. So many infections start in the gums, and as those spread and worsen the gums will begin to gradually recede away from the base of the teeth over time. That creates a gap or pocket between the tooth and gum where bacterial colonies grow stronger and eventually pierce the protective out layer of the tooth or burrow down underneath the tooth to attack the base of the tooth and the tooth’s root.
Once that kind of situation develops it can quickly accelerate and lead to serious consequences that require treatments including root canal procedures. Diseases of the gums can also spread into the bloodstream, where they are sometimes responsible for conditions including heart disease and other potentially deadly health care issues.
There are many modern treatments for periodontal disease, and dentists can even cure problems that are in advanced stages of infection by performing various periodontal surgical techniques. They can, for example, clean pockets of disease with tools including state-of-the-art lasers and then apply special dental antibiotics directly at the point of bacterial infection. Dentists can remove excess gum tissue when necessary, and they can also temporarily peel away gum in order to treat problems hidden behind the periodontal tissue deep within the base of a tooth.
But the best way for a dentist to help care for your gums and bone which surround and support teeth (periodontium) is with simple, painless, routine checkups. During your scheduled visits with your dental professional (the dentist, periodontist, or dental hygienist), he or she will ensure that the gums are carefully cleaned and checked. Measurements will be taken and recorded to make sure that any gaps between gums and teeth do not widen in an unhealthy manner, and your dental professional (dentist, periodontist or dental hygienist) can also advise you how to brush and floss correctly to ensure that your periodontal health is excellent and that your attractive smile lasts for many trouble-free years to come.