Periodontal (‘Peri’ meaning ‘around’ and ‘dontal’ meaning ‘teeth’) disease is infection on structures such as gums, alveolar bone and periodontal ligament that are located around the teeth. Such infection usually starts with gums leading to gingivitis and then spreads to the tissues in severe conditions.
Causes Of Periodontal Disease
The primary cause of all forms of periodontal diseases (from gingivitis to periodontitis) is dental plaque. Dental plaque is composed of bacteria, epithelial cells and mucin and has adhesive properties. Dental plaque forms on teeth every 12 hours after brushing them.
When this plaque comes in contact with mineral salts (found in foods that we eat), it forms tartar. This tartar offers breeding grounds for bad bacteria that feed on the teeth’s supporting structures such as alveolar bone.However, there are other possible causes of periodontal diseases.
Although genes play a significant role in development of periodontal diseases, it can be avoided by maintaining good oral hygiene.
Risk of periodontal diseases in smokers is higher than that in non-smokers. This is because tartar formation accelerates with smoking.Brushing and flossing get tougher when teeth are misaligned or when there are braces on them. This leads to formation of plaque as well as tartar.
Some people have the habit of grinding teeth when under stress. This exerts unwanted pressure on the periodontal ligament.
With increasing stress, the immune system gets weaker. In such a situation, the person is unable to fight infection.
Puberty, pregnancy and menopause call for fluctuating hormone levels in the body. This can adversely affect the gums.
Some medicines for diseases like depression result in dry mouth. In the absence of enough saliva, the risk of plaque formation increases.
Certain diseases such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and AIDS trigger the development of periodontal diseases.
Treatment For Periodontal Diseases
There are a good number of treatments available for periodontal diseases that vary according to the severity of the disease.
Two methods – root planing and scaling – are involved in this type of treatment. Through these methods, the dentist removes the plaque. While scaling scrapes off tartar from gum line, root planing removes rough spots on tooth rot and prevent gathering of germs.
A dentist may also prescribe certain medications for periodontal diseases. These include antimicrobial mouth rinse, antiseptic chip, enzyme suppressants, antibiotic microspheres, antibiotic gel, etc.
If after deep cleaning, pockets are left behind then the dentist may follow up with surgery. Flap surgery for teeth removes tartar deposits remaining in deep pockets thereby helping the patient to keep the teeth clean. After flap surgery, gums hold the tooth more tightly.
In case of severe periodontal disease such as periodontitis, the dentist performs bone grafting. In this particular surgery, a synthetic bone is engrafted where the actual bone is lost. This is followed up with guided tissue regeneration that results in regrowth of both the connective tissue and the bone.
Home Treatments For Periodontal Diseases
To prevent periodontal diseases from recurring, one should brush the teeth two times daily. Dental checkups followed by professional cleaning should be made part of the routine. One should start using interdental cleaner that removes bacteria from teeth. Chewing foods thoroughly is essential. Sugar intake should be lessened. One should mandatorily quit smoking.
Herbal Treatment For Periodontal Diseases
The herb Hawthorn Berry keeps periodontal diseases at bay as it tightens the gums.
Echinacea Herb Echinacea is a strong anti-microbial agent and it kills bacteria and prevents infection. One can mix echinacea with chamomile and myrrh to make a mouthwash and treat gingivitis.
Goldenseal treats inflammation and mouth sores. It also kills bacteria associated with periodontal diseases.