Is periodontal disease transmissible?
Yes, by direct contact passing the disease causing bacteria.
What are the treatments for periodontal disease?
Treatment for periodontal disease depends on the severity of the problem. What all types of treatment do is to reestablish healthy gums that can be maintained and act as a barrier to future disease. Bacteria must be effectively and thoroughly removed on a daily basis for permanent success to occur.
The first type of treatment involves what is called deep scaling or root planing. It is the most conservative treatment available and is commonly called the Non-Surgical approach. This is almost always done with local anesthetic and rarely causes residual discomfort. In many cases it is best to do each pocket more than once as it is impossible to remove all deposits and debris in the deeper pockets on the first treatment. When successful, the gum will reattach at a higher level than before thus reestablishing a better barrier to the bacteria and the disease process will be eliminated. There are many ways to enhance these results, including first among these improved homecare techniques. Other treatment options include antibiotics (oral or directly placed next to the teeth).
The second major treatment is surgery. Surgery is not a cure for the disease. Surgery helps create a more maintainable periodontal situation. The simplest type of surgery is called a gingivectomy. A gingivectomy is the surgical removal of the diseased gum tissue with the healing of the gum at a lower level. Depending on the pocket depth, this may involve massive tissue loss. More common are “flap” procedures. While there are different types of “flaps” and different techniques, the goal is to temporarily move the gum back during the surgery, remove the underlying disease process and if necessary, change the contour of the bone. The gum tissue is then sutured back in place. With successful healing, the gum will reattach at a higher level than it was when the disease process was present, although never back to where it was originally. Other surgical techniques include the implantation of new bone and the use of a synthetic bone matrix that stimulates bone growth. The last treatment is the use of extractions, or removal of the teeth. Certainly, the goal of any treatment is to save the teeth, however there are times when the bone destruction is so great around one or more teeth that it threatens to infect the tooth next to it. If the adjacent tooth has a level of bone that can successfully be treated by one of the methods mentioned above, yet its next door neighbor cannot, then removal of the hopeless tooth can only help the long term prognosis.
It is not uncommon to find periodontally involved teeth often respond positively to root canal treatment. Many studies have shown periodontal disease causing bacteria within the tooth. Even with antibiotic treatment these bacteria are not eliminated.
Some upper molars, which usually have three roots, often respond positively to the removal of one of the smaller roots – this is referred to as a root amputation.
Tooth position and bite are very significant factors. When the forces on teeth are more than the supporting bone and gum can withstand the underlying periodontal disease can be aggravated. The ultimate successful treatment of periodontal disease usually involves some sort bite adjustment and/or orthodontic treatment (braces).
It cannot be emphasized enough that while treatment may re-establish a healthy gum condition, if the bacteria are not regularly and effectively removed, the disease will reappear.
What is gum recession?
Gum recession occurs when the gum and supporting bone are destroyed so that the top of the gum recedes away from the biting edge or chewing surface. This is the origin of the expression “long in the tooth”. Gum recession is most often caused by too much force on teeth; however, it can be also be caused by periodontal disease (NOTE: it is not caused by toothbrushing, click here). Gum recession caused by periodontal disease most commonly occurs where the inflammation caused by the disease process destroys the attachment of the gum progressively down the root.
What can be done about gum recession?
Treatment options depend on the nature of the problem and the cause. If root surface sensitivity occurs, early treatment may simply involve desensitizing the root surface. Sometimes a bonded filling can serve as a barrier to temperature. Grafting of gum tissue is very common and successful for noticeable cases of recession. If the bite is the significant underlying cause, then a bite adjustment and/or orthodontic treatment (braces) is indicated.