Can Patients Who Have Neglected Their Oral Health for Years Reverse the Damage to Their Mouths?
Unfortunately, irreversible damage in these cases is likely because gum disease leads to receding gums and bone loss, which in turn will not properly support the teeth. Certain patients may qualify for grafting procedures that restore this tissue loss. An STM treatment and at-home care can prevent further damage following a restoration procedure. Broken teeth and tooth decay can be replaced through dental implants and bridges, which will appear natural amongst patients’ other teeth.
Treating Periodontal Disease
When a patient notices changes taking place in the gums or is informed by dental staff that they could benefit from professional intervention, they may be a candidate for Dr. Lazare’s soft tissue management program. The soft tissue management (STM) program is a non-surgical method of treating and preventing the progression of periodontal disease. It consists of periodontal debridement, or the removal of plaque tartar below the gum line.
During the procedure, Dr. Lazare operates a piezo ultrasonic scaler, which is a gentle instrument that utilizes water and ultrasound waves to eliminate calculus deposits from teeth. Scaling and root planing address the health of the periodontium, including the root of the tooth, to remove all buildup and disinfect the area. This process will reestablish the attachment of the teeth to the gums. The irrigation process also utilizes chlorhexidine and fluoride to promote area healing. These medications can be warmed, and anesthesia can be administered for a more comfortable experience.
Patients may be asked to follow up with at-home care consisting of a specific regimen. Dr. Lazare may suggest the use of an electric toothbrush, a special fluoride toothpaste like Prevident, and Perioguard mouthwash. By undergoing the minimally invasive STM treatment and practicing good oral hygiene, patients can avoid tooth extraction and the placement of dental implants or other periodontal surgery. Patients may also be required to schedule more frequent visits with their general dentist for cleanings.
Other Complications of Periodontal Disease
The vast majority of the population – about 75% – is currently experiencing some form of periodontal disease. Studies have shown that this type of inflammation is linked to serious health issues like heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, respiratory diseases, and low birth weight in babies whose mothers are affected. Researchers have found that the type of bacteria in plaque is also present in blood vessels of patients with coronary artery disease. Those with periodontal disease are predisposed to suffer a heart attack as a fatal event and have a higher risk of stroke.
Certain habits like smoking or chewing tobacco have also been connected with gum disease. Some early signs of periodontal disease are bleeding gums when brushing the teeth and continuously swollen, red gums. As it progresses, patients will notice loose teeth with dark spaces between them, and pocketing of 4mm or greater when measured by a dental hygienist.
Routine prophylactic cleanings are designed to protect against gingivitis and periodontal disease. Once inflammation and recession of gum tissue is noted, a patient’s dentist or hygienist will measure gum recession and the gaps between teeth and the surrounding gums in order to follow any disease progression. If the disease cannot be reversed, the dentist will then recommend that the patient schedule an appointment with a periodontist.
Heart Disease & Gum Disease
If a specialist were to tell you that your cholesterol is too high and, as a result, double your chances of developing heart disease, would you kick yourself into action and do something about it?
Most rational people would. In fact, after hearing those words, many would consult a nutritionist, start an exercise regimen, or alter their diet by eliminating cheese or switching to egg whites.
Now, suppose you hear the news that heart disease was twice as high in people with gum disease (or periodontal disease) and you were one of those many people who suffered from this condition.
Would you set up an appointment with your dentist with the same urgency as before?
Studies About the Link Between Gum & Heart Disease
According to some studies, periodontal disease has proven to be among the strongest risk factors linked to heart disease, along with hypertension. Oral bacteria can infect damaged hearts and certain types can cause platelets to aggregate. New findings have emerged explaining how and why gum-disease-causing bacteria can also increase the risk of heart disease. Researchers at Harvard’s School of Dental Medicine and presenters at the 150th annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science also concluded that the bacteria found in plaque (the primary etiological factor causing gum disease) is linked to coronary disease.
How Does Gum Disease Affect the Heart?
People afflicted by gum disease are twice as likely to suffer a fatal heart attack and nearly three times more likely to suffer a stroke than those with no periodontal issues. It is long thought that oral bacteria, the most well-known kind being streptococci, invades the blood circulation through small ulcers in the gum tissue. The bacteria cause platelets in the circulatory system to build up and create blood clots (known as thrombi) which can block veins and taint heart valves.
At the point when you reflect on the impact of gum disease, think not just as far as how it affects your dental health, but also how it could provoke dangerous and possibly lethal infection from the spread of bacteria into your bloodstream. Avoiding other risk factors like smoking and chewing tobacco which have a detrimental effect on the severity of gum disease is also very beneficial to both gum & heart well-being. Systemic diseases like diabetes can lower the oral tissue’s resistance to infection, making gum disease even more severe.
How to Prevent Gum & Heart Disease
Have your dentist review your medical history in-depth during your appointment. Oftentimes, high cholesterol wouldn’t be the only red flag that can be raised. A considerable lot of the meds or drugs that you might take can diminish your salivary flow and immensely affect your teeth and gums. Prevention and early detection are vital parts in beating heart disease.
The following are symptoms of gum disease:
- Gums that tend to bleed easier and often
- Tender or swollen gums
- Halitosis (bad breath)
- Loose teeth, or teeth that feel like they move
- Secretions between gums and teeth
Infections like gingivitis and more also pose a threat and are considered red flags in such cases. If you suffer from any of the aforementioned signs, contact a professional dentist or periodontist for a thorough diagnosis and treatment plan.
Available Treatments for Gum Disease
There are many procedures, routine check-ups, and other dental & oral services that can aid in the prevention of developing heart disease due to poor oral and dental hygiene. Treatments like periodontics and dental cleanings are necessary to keep gum health steady and minimize your risk of coronary illness. However, there is a wide array of solutions you and your dental specialist can discuss during a consultation or appointment. Teeth are intended to last you a lifetime, and a healthy heart and body should help improve your overall quality of life. They shouldn’t impede one another.
During the initial visit to Dr. Lazare’s office, the periodontist will go over the patient’s medical and dental history, including current medications they may be taking. Next, the patient undergoes an examination of oral and periodontal health. The periodontist will assess recession of the gums and perform measurements of associated periodontal pockets, survey the bite, and determine if any of the teeth have loosened. It may be necessary to perform imaging of the mouth (x-rays) to view potential bone loss between the teeth.
Patients with diabetes should inform their oral health providers of their condition. The best time to be in the chair is about 90 minutes after a diabetic patient has eaten and taken their diabetes medications. A more condensed morning visit tends to work well. Diabetic patients should also ensure they are scheduling exams twice a year.