‘Pyorrhea’ or Periodontitis: the silent enemy
Gum disease or ‘Pyorrhea’ or Periodontitis is a very common condition of mouth where gums and other deeper structures become inflammed. The first sign of gum disease is that the patient complains of bleeding gums during brushing. The bacterial accumulation around teeth in form of ‘dental plaque’ in defense of which body produces inflammation of gums which in turn causes redness, swelling and bleeding gums. If left unchecked, this inflammation can cause resorption of bone around roots of teeth which leads to loosening and potential loss of teeth.
The main cause of periodontitis is certain bacteria which are naturally present in mouth which becomes harmful once they increase tremendously in number in presence of right environment. Such environment is produced when bacterial plaque is left undisturbed on teeth, especially in hard to reach areas such as in between teeth.
The first sign as already mentioned is bleeding gums while brushing. The gums look swollen and red with a layer of plaque and calculus around affected teeth. This is the beginning of inflammation of gums which is termed ‘gingivitis’. Gingivitis if left untreated leads to periodontitis which essentially is present when there is loss of supporting bone around teeth. Other signs of periodontitis include bad breath, change in position of teeth over time, sensitivity, lengthening of teeth (recession), creation of space between teeth and rarely dull pain. The absence of pain is the main reason, patient is unable to gauge the destruction this disease is causing to their gums and underlying bone. Because of this the patient usually reports late to the dentist when a substantial bone loss and loosening of teeth has already happened. Thus educating the patient about periodontitis at every visit to dentist is important along with other community awareness programmes.
HOW TO PREVENT?
- Cleaning the teeth twice daily with a tooth brush and a paste.
- Cleaning space between teeth where it is hard for a tooth brush to reach using a dental floss.
- Larger spaces in between teeth can be reached with inter dental brushes.
- Mouth washes can be used as a supplement but only on recommendation of the dentist.
- Six monthly regular check up with a dentist to check your oral hygiene and performing cleaning of fixed deposits (calculus/tartar) which cannot be removed by the patient.