The two major forms of periodontal disease are gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis, if not properly treated, in some individuals will develop into the more advanced and destructive periodontitis, which can involve loss of gum and bone around the teeth. Both forms require immediate attention.
Scientific advances have improved understanding of the interrelationship between oral and overall systemic health and disease. Chronic inflammation in any part of the body has the potential to cause diseases in other parts of the body. For instance, chronic inflammation of the prostate gland will increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases in men. The same is true of inflammation of the gums in the oral cavity due to gingivitis and periodontitis; it can put the patient at risk for cardiovascular complications.
Risk Factor Identification
According to the Canadian Acadamy of Periodontology, the risk factors of periodontal disease are numerous. Genetic predisposition is a potential risk factor; there is no definitive genetic test available, but a family history of periodontal problems and tooth loss will give some indication whether an individual may be at risk. The next risk factors are smoking, diabetes, poor oral hygiene and having had previous experience with periodontal gum disease.
Very simple prevention methods can be applied. Toothpaste with anti-inflammatory properties can be prescribed, and a sonic toothbrush is another great tool at improving oral hygiene. The next and probably the most important part of prevention is regular cleanings and examinations at your dental office.
Dental care every three to six months is very effective in controlling chronic inflammation from periodontal diseases. If examination reveals advancing periodontitis or difficulty in eliminating inflammation of the gingiva, then referral to a periodontist should be made.
Periodontal diseases can, if not prevented or treated, put the patient at greater risk for complications from other chronic diseases. Risk assessment for periodontal and other diseases should be part of every dental examination.