Enfermedad periodontal: qué es y qué hacer

(Interview on radio programme “Espejo Canario” with Dr. Yeray Placeres, specialist in Periodontics and Dental Implants.)

What is gum disease?

Gum disease (periodontal disease) is an infection of the tissues that surround and support your teeth.  Plaque gradually builds up on teeth, causing damage to the soft tissue and bone necessary to support them.  Teeth then become loose and, if not detected and left untreated, can fall out.

Is tooth loss one of the main consequences of the disease?

Definitely. With tooth loss, our quality of life worsens because we don’t eat as well and food doesn’t taste the same. Fundamentally, everything comes back to oral health.

What other consequences can gum disease have for our health in general?

When you have mouth problems you don’t eat properly which then leads to digestive problems. From then on, we can experience all types of health issues. From heart conditions to uncontrolled diabetes. Studies have even proved that premature birth and low birth weight can be caused by an expectant mother’s poor oral health.

Is it reversible?

What we can do is stop gum disease. What we cannot do is get back lost tissue. However, with certain levels of remaining tissue, we can manage to save teeth and avoid tooth loss.

How is gum disease treated?

The first step is to go to a dental clinic that has a periodontal specialist. It is dentists who deal with gum disease. Depending on the case, some patients will need special dental cleaning and to follow certain oral care practices; others will require a microbiological test to be carried out in order to find out which bacteria are affecting their tissue.

In short, it is important for the periodontal specialist to evaluate and determine the type of treatment necessary for the patient, depending on the level of the disease?

That’s right. Even children can have gum disease with their milk teeth. They are many different types of gum disease: some mild and others more severe, and not all require the same treatment. Some need more treatment, others less. There are patients who need antibiotics or antimicrobial therapies and others who only require simple treatment. 

And finally, how can we detect gum disease?

Before reaching the stage of serious gum disease, the first sign is gingivitis. Gingivitis is when gums start turning red, along with bleeding, which tells us that something is wrong. The most important thing to do is to make an appointment with your dentist as soon as you realise that there is something not quite right going on in your mouth.

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