How can I maintain good oral health?

What is periodontics?

Periodontics is a part of dentistry that is related to the diagnosis and treatment of diseases that support the teeth or implants, as well as the maintenance of their health, function and esthetics.

What are the most frequent diseases?

Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection that affects the periodontium, that is, the tissues that support the teeth.

When the gum is affected causing a reversible inflammatory process it is called gingivitis. Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gum, its main characteristic is bleeding caused by food debris left between the teeth due to poor or no hygiene. When this phenomenon evolves into a chronic state, it can lead to periodontitis.

Periodontitis produces a deeper destruction of the supporting tissues of the tooth, in addition to the gum, it can affect the bone, cementum and periodontal ligament.

What are the consequences?

Gingivitis without proper treatment can progress to periodontal disease. Periodontal disease produces the loss of the supporting tissue of the tooth which causes the mobility of the tooth and eventually its loss with the aesthetic and functional repercussions that this entails.

Other symptoms are constant bad breath, pain when chewing or tooth sensitivity.

How can we maintain a healthy mouth?

The measures to prevent gingivitis and periodontal disease are aimed at the elimination of bacterial plaque or tartar, which is the main causative agent.

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The most effective way is the correct use of the toothbrush and dental floss at least once a day, which helps us to reduce plaque in the interdental areas where the toothbrush does not reach.

The devices that irrigate water can supplement hygiene, although they do not remove plaque, they do remove food debris that favors the formation of plaque.

The use of certain toothpastes or mouthwashes can help us to control plaque bacteria.

In addition to hygiene, there are other risk factors that influence the appearance of periodontal disease such as smoking, hormonal changes, diabetes, stress, medications that can reduce saliva (antidepressants…), some diseases (cancer, AIDS…) or even genetics, since some people are more prone to suffer periodontal disease.

The control of these risk factors will also be fundamental for a good control of periodontal disease.

Another important pillar is to have regular check-ups at the dentist, who will help us monitor the health of our gums and, if necessary, establish the appropriate treatment for the control of gingivitis or periodontal disease.

How does food play a role in keeping the mouth healthy?

Periodontal disease is closely related to diet, since there are dietary elements that promote or diminish the development of periodontal disease.

Over time periodontal disease has undergone variations associated with changes in the consistency of the diet, periodontopathies varied in frequency and severity.

Although a diet may have a high nutritional content, if it does not have adequate consistency it is unable to stimulate periodontal tissues or sweep away debris and bacteria associated with the teeth. A consistent diet helps to increase gingival keratinization.

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Minerals, especially calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and fluoride and vitamins are of great importance, optimal concentrations offer greater protection against caries and periodontal disease.

Fermentable carbohydrates are used by the microorganisms that contribute to the oral flora for their metabolism, thus contributing to the formation of plaque, which when not properly removed is capable of causing gum inflammation.

What does periodontal treatment consist of?

The objective of the treatment is to control the infection, the number and type of treatment will vary depending on the severity of the disease.

The prophylaxis will remove tartar and plaque, after a thorough cleaning the patient will be instructed in proper hygiene, flossing and may recommend the use of mouthwash, as well as the placement of misaligned teeth, smoking cessation or treatment of other diseases that influence the onset of periodontal disease.

Scaling and smoothing is a deep prophylaxis, with scaling the tartar that is deposited both above and below the gum line is removed, and with smoothing the roughness where germs can accumulate is eliminated.

Depending on the severity of the disease, surgical treatment may be recommended when inflammation and pockets persist after deep cleaning. This treatment consists of lifting the gum to remove tartar from the root of the tooth that is not otherwise accessible and repositioning the gum.

In addition to surgery, bone grafting may be necessary to help replace the tissue destroyed by the disease.