This four-part article series provides an in-depth look at periodontal (gum) disease: what it is, how it presents, how it can be prevented and what treatment options are available for those who have it.

Welcome back to our four-part article series on periodontal (gum) disease! In our previous post, All On 4 implants specialists - the healthcare professionals responsible for mitigating the damage done by this disease - explained to us exactly what periodontitis is and the various risk factors that leave one more susceptible to it. In this article, the second installment of the series, we will be taking a closer look at the mouth under the microscope so that we can understand the exact mechanisms of periodontitis.

Your Mouth Under the Microscope

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At any given moment, there are literally billions of microorganisms crawling all over every surface of your mouth. Collectively, these bacteria (alive and dead, as well as their wastes) are visible as plaque or, when it has been left to harden, as tartar. Bacteria feast upon the food debris, sugary residues and dead tissues that - at the microscopic level - are so abundant in your mouth. Just like any other animal on the planet, they then produce wastes that are quite acidic and this irritates the gums and erodes dental enamel, leading to cavities. The accumulation of these wastes, which are high in sulfurous compounds, is what gives us halitosis (bad breath) when we haven’t brushed our teeth for a while.

Regular and thorough brushing, flossing and rinsing help to minimize the numbers of bacteria and the pile-ups of their wastes in our mouth. This, in turn, eliminates bad breath and prevents gum irritation and inflammation and the risk of cavities. Poor oral hygiene and the various factors that impede saliva production (your body’s natural defense against oral bacteria) therefore increase our risk of succumbing to these problems.

For example:

Smoking and alcohol impede saliva production and thicken the blood, which slows the natural healing process and our immunity to infection. Alcoholic beverages also tend to be acidic and full of sugar and this erodes dental enamel and encourages bacteria respectively.

Certain medications, such as anti-histamines and heart disease drugs, can cause “dry mouth”.

Certain illnesses (diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease, cancer and autoimmune diseases) share a relationship with the oral bacteria that cause inflammation and periodontitis.

When Bacteria are Left to Proliferate...

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These microorganisms populate the tiny spaces between the teeth and the tooth roots and the surrounding gum tissue, where brushing and flossing is ineffectual in removing them. Deep pockets of bacteria and their wastes subsequently accumulate; which deteriorates the health of the teeth, irritates and inflames the gums, causes infection and can eventually lead to tooth loss. Houston dentures and dental healthcare specialists measure the severity of gum disease based upon the depth of the periodontal pockets surrounding the teeth (see diagram above). The deeper the pockets, the more progressed the disease and the more likely a patient is to suffer tooth loss at some imminent stage, if they haven’t already.

Stay Tuned for Part 3

Stay tuned for Part 3 of this four-part article series in which All On 4 Implants specialists discuss the signs and symptoms of periodontal disease as well as how you can go about protecting yourself against this terrible oral affliction.