Studies have shown links between periodontal (gum) disease, heart disease and other health conditions.
Research further suggests that gum disease may be a more serious risk for heart disease, more so than hypertension, smoking cholesterol, gender, and ages.
Researchers' conclusions suggest that bacteria present in infected gums can become loose and move throughout the body through the bloodstream. Once bacteria reach the arteries, they can irritate them in the same way that they irritate gum tissue causing arterial plaque, which can cause hardening and affect blood-flow.
Learn more about Gum Disease / Periodontics:
Healthy Gums: Healthy gums are generally pink and anchor the teeth firmly in place.
Periodontal Disease: Periodontal diseases are infections of the gums which gradually lead to the destruction of the bone support around your natural teeth.
About Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums, which gradually leads to the destruction of the support of your natural teeth. This disease affects more than 80% of Americans by the age of 45.
Dental plaque is the primary cause of gum disease. Bacteria found in plaque produce enzymes and toxins which injure the gums. Injured gums turn red, swell and bleed easily.
If this injury is prolonged, the gums separate from the teeth, causing pockets (spaces) to form.
Plaque can also harden into a rough, porous substance known as calculus (tartar).
This can occur both above and below the gum line. As periodontal disease progresses, the supporting gum tissue and bone that holds the teeth in place deteriorate.
If left untreated, this leads to tooth loss. Pain is usually not present until damage from this disease is very advanced.
When the bone tissue starts to deteriorate, this is known as a form of gum disease called Periodontitis. This happens when the byproducts of plaque attack the tissues that hold your teeth to the bone. The gums begin falling away from the teeth and form pockets in the gums which allows more plaque to collect below the gum line. When this occurs, the patient becomes more sensitive to hot and cold and the roots of the teeth are more vulnerable to decay.
Functional Crown Lengthening
Periodontal procedures are available to lay the groundwork for restorative and cosmetic dentistry and/or to improve the esthetics of your gum line. Your teeth may actually be the proper lengths, but they are covered with too much gum tissue. Crown lengthening is a procedure to correct this condition.
During this procedure, excess gum and bone tissue is re-shaped to expose more of the natural tooth. This can be done to one tooth, to even your gum line, or to several teeth to expose a natural, broad smile.
Crown lengthening can make a restorative or cosmetic dental procedure possible. Perhaps your tooth is decayed, broken below the gum line, or has insufficient tooth structure for a restoration, such as a crown or bridge. Crown lengthening adjusts the gum and bone level to expose more of the tooth so it can be restored.
If a patient has an excess amount of tissue that connects the lower and upper lips to the jaw and gum line, a frenectomy procedure is performed to remove the excess tissue. A frenectomy is either performed inside the middle of the upper lip, which is called a labial frenectomy, or under the tongue, called a lingual frenectomy. Frenectomy is a very common dental procedure in the dental world and is performed both on children and adults.
Gum Flap Surgery
When deep pockets between teeth and gums (6 millimeters or deeper) are present, it is difficult for a dentist to thoroughly remove the plaque and tartar. Gum flap surgery is a procedure where the gum flap is lifted away from the tooth. Diseased tissue and sometimes bone is removed. The rough surfaces of the tooth are then smoothed by root planing. The area is medicated and the gum flap is replaced and sutured allowing the bone and gum tissue to heal.
One of the goals of gum flap surgery is to reduce the depth of the periodontal pockets to make them easier to keep clean.
When a tooth is lost, both bone and gum tissue compete for the vacant space. The gum tissue generates more quickly than bone, subsequently occupying the space. With a membrane placement we can keep the gum tissue from invading the space, which will ideally give the bone sufficient time to regenerate. Bone regeneration is often used to rebuild the supporting structures around the teeth, which have been destroyed by periodontal disease. Bone surgery may be used to attempt to rebuild or reshape bone. Grafts of the patient's bone or artificial bone may be used, as well as special membranes.
A gum lift may be performed to create a more even gum line. Patients with a gummy smile can quickly and safely have unwanted tissue removed, thus exposing more tooth to shape a more attractive smile.
The human skull has several cavities or air spaces called sinuses. When the sinus is enlarged and intrudes on areas where we want to place dental implants, bone or bone growth stimulation material is placed into the sinus. This procedure only affects the maxillary sinuses, which are located just over the molar teeth in the upper jaw. The side of the maxillary sinus is opened and the bottom is raised so it will fill in with bone. Several months later, dental implants can be placed in solid bone.
An "Osteotome Lift" is a surgical procedure that raises the floor of the sinus directly over where the implant is placed. This can be done without actually opening the sinus.
When a tooth is lost and not immediately replaced, the bone reacts to this event by 'shrinking back'. The bone becomes thinner from a width perspective and the bone height is frequently reduced. This process is known as bone resorption. In order to place implants, it is necessary to rebuild the bone width and height through regenerative surgical therapy. Bone grafting of the ridge is almost always required to enable accurate placement of dental implants. The grafting is completed utilizing tissue bank and/or synthetic bone particles combined with collagen membranes. It is a highly predictable procedure.
When a tooth is extracted and an implant is to be placed (either simultaneously or in the future) it is always necessary to complete bone grafting within the residual sockets that are left behind after the roots of the tooth are removed. The shape of the tooth root is always different from the shape of a dental implant and hence there are always residual socket defects (holes) that must be filled in so that there can be excellent contact of the implant to the newly formed bone.
Bone grafting is commonly performed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon to replace or augment bone in areas of tooth loss. Bone grafting to the jaws and facial structures may be necessary in a wide variety of scenarios. The most common bone grafts are facial skeleton and jaw procedures. Other common procedures include tooth extraction site graft, bone graft reconstruction and for a sinus lift. Shrinkage of bone often occurs when a tooth is lost due to trauma, severe caries, or periodontal disease. Additionally, bone loss may have already occurred due to infection or pathology around a tooth. There are many artificial biocompatible bone substitutes available; however, the best material for a bone graft is your own bone, which most likely will come from your chin, the back part of your lower jaw or your hip bone. The hip is considered to be a better source because the hip bone has a lot of marrow, which contains bone-forming cells. There are also synthetic materials that can be used for bone grafting. Most bone grafts use a person's own bone, possibly in combination with other materials.
To place the removed bone in the recipient site, little holes are drilled in the existing bone to cause bleeding. This is done because blood provides cells that help the bone heal. The block of bone that was removed will be anchored in place with titanium screws. A mixture of the patient's bone marrow and some other bone-graft material will then be placed around the edges of bone block. Finally, a membrane is placed over the area and the incision closed.
The bone graft will take about 6 to 12 months to heal before dental implants can be placed. At that time, the titanium screws used to anchor the bone block in place will be removed before the implant is placed.
Soft Tissue Grafting
Root exposure resulting from gingival tissue recession may pose multiple problems for patients:
- Undesirable Aesthetics
- Root Sensitivity
- Impaired Oral Hygiene
- Increased Caries Susceptibility
- Teeth May Become Loose
A gingival tissue graft will restore the proper gum tissue structure around the tooth.