Dr. Nazila Naghizadeh graduated with a Master of Science in Dentistry with a major in Periodontics. She is an active member of American Dental Association and IDA. Over the last several years, she has worked with patients across Asia. Now she has joined Pachem Dental, a clinic that began operating in 1999 and has grown to have more than 35 dental chairs and three branches in Phnom Penh and one in Siem Reap province.
The clinics’ clients are drawn from all corners of the globe, including the U.S., Europe, Australia and Asia.
Post Plus sat down with Naghzadeh to talk about Periodontics and gum disease.
What is Periodontitis?
Periodontitis, also generally called ‘Gum disease’ or ‘periodontal disease’, is an inflammation around the tooth. It is a serious gum infection that damages the soft tissue and bone that supports the tooth.
What does periodontics refer to?
In dentistry, periodontics deals with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases involving the gums and structures which support the teeth.
What type of gum disease can we get?
There are two types of gum disease: Gingivitis (milder form) is a gum disease that affects only the gums, the soft tissue that surrounds the teeth. Periodontitis is more severe. It spreads below the gums to damage the soft tissues and bone that support the teeth.
What causes gum disease?
Gum disease is caused by the growth of bacteria on the teeth and gums. Bacteria are present in plaque--a clear, sticky substance that your mouth produces. The toxins produced by bacteria in plaque irritate your gums, eventually hardening into a buildup called calculus or tartar that can cause more irritation.
In the early stage of gingivitis, bacteria in plaque builds up, causing the gum to become inflamed and to easily bleed during tooth brushing, although the gum may be irritated, teeth are still planted in their sockets, and no irreversible bone or other tissue damage has occurred at this stage.
Untreated gingivitis can progress to periodontitis. With periodontitis, the gum and bone pulls away from the teeth, forming large pockets. Debris collects in the spaces between the gums and teeth that infect the area.
The patient's immune system attacks bacteria as the plaque spreads below the gum line. Bone and connective tissue that hold the tooth start to break down - this is caused by toxins produced by the bacteria. Teeth become loose and can fall out.
Are there any signs to look out for when it comes to gum disease?
Yes, take a time and observe if you have red, swollen, and tender gums that bleed easily during brushing or flossing. Inflamed (swollen) gums, which are bright red gums, and purple gums that hurt when touched are also signs to look out for.
Overly sensitive teeth, gums recession, which makes teeth look longer, extra spaces that appear between teeth, pus that may appear between the teeth and gum, metallic taste in the mouth, halitosis, loose teeth or if the patient's ‘bite’ feels different because the teeth do not fit the same are other symptoms.
What are the risk factors for periodontitis?
The following risk factors are linked to a higher risk of periodontitis: Smoking, hormonal changes in females - puberty, pregnancy and menopause, as well as diabetes --patients who have diabetes have a much higher incidence of gum disease than other individuals of the same age.
What are the treatment options for periodontitis?
There is non-surgical and surgical treatment. The main aim of the periodontist when treating gum disease is to clean out the bacteria that form around the pockets around the teeth and prevent further destruction of bone and tissue. However, in advance periodontitis, your gum tissue may not respond to nonsurgical treatment or good oral hygiene. In that case, surgical interventions are required.
What are the complications of periodontitis or advanced gum disease if left untreated?
The most common complication from periodontitis is the loss of teeth. However, patients with periodontitis are also at a higher risk of having respiratory problems, such as asthma, stroke, coronary artery disease, and it may contribute to Alzheimer’s disease.
Pregnant women with bacterial infections that cause moderate-to-severe periodontal disease have a higher risk of having a premature baby. Periodontitis can make it harder for patients with diabetes to control blood sugar.
Any advice that you want to share to us?
The relationship you have with your gums will last a life time. Healthy gums give you long lasting teeth and overall health. Early detection of gum disease can prevent many complications that result from gum disease and gives better results in treatment.
It is important that the patient understands that periodontitis is a chronic (long-term) inflammatory disease--this means oral hygiene must be maintained for life. This will also involve regular visits to a periodontics specialist. Also, visiting gum specialists can help you think about your oral health in whole new way.