Ask A Dentist – What is Periodontal Disease?
This week, someone asked our dentist: “I was told that I couldn’t have a regular cleaning because I have periodontal disease. What is that? And what kind of cleaning can I have?” Dr. Mallory, a Smile Generation-approved dentist, based in Arizona replied:
Periodontal Disease is a bacterial infection in the gums,which causes inflammation and loss of bone that eventually leads to tooth loss. This not only affects your oral health, it has a negative impact on systemic health. Most recent studies show that periodontal disease plays a significant role in the relationship to heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
Even though most people in the United States have a high dental IQ, many are uneducated about the process of periodontal disease. In recent years the subject has become a large part of curriculum in dental schools. With this change it is inevitable that dentists around the country are focusing on this important aspect of patient oral health now more than ever.
Periodontal disease is easy to diagnose since 80% of the population has some form. The dentist or hygienist simply uses a small measuring stick called a periodontal probe to measure your gums. Healthy gums will have a measurement of 2-3mm. A measurement of 4mm or higher indicates inflammation and in most cases bone loss. We also look for calculus or bone loss on the radiographs. The dentist uses these basic components along with your health history to make the proper diagnosis.
The reason for your diagnosis depends on many factors. How frequent you visit the hygienist, the medications you take, existing medical conditions like diabetes, stress or life events; there are many. What is important is that the dentist uses the tools necessary to make the proper diagnosis. If there is evidence of calculus under the gums, deep pockets that are 4mm or deeper, or other signs of disease — a scaling and root planing or “deep cleaning” may be needed. Other tools, such as laser therapy or local antibiotics such as arrestin, offer an incredible advantage in the treatment of periodontal disease.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. James Mallory practices at Festival Dental Group and Orthodontics, Arrowhead Dental Group and Orthodontics,EveryKidsDentist @ Arrowhead, Canyon Modern Dentistry and Orthodontics, and EveryKidsDentist @ Canyon in Arizona. He is also a regular contributor to Arizona Health and Living Magazine