Studies have shown shown that there may be an correlation between periodontal disease and other chronic conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, among others. Researchers believe that inflammation may be the cause behind the link between periodontal disease and other chronic conditions. Inflammation is the body’s reaction to fight off infection, protect against injury, or guard against irritation. It initially intends to have a protective effect. Chronic inflammation, if left untreated, can lead to the destruction of affected tissues, which can lead to more serious health complications. If you feel or suspect you have one of the inflammatory conditions discussed below, it is imperative to talk with both your primary care physician and a dental health professional, such as a periodontist, to help reduce the risk of disease progression. Both dental and medical professionals will often work together to manage their patients at risk, or living with any of the following diseases:
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is at the top of the list among killers of men and women every year. Studies have shown that inflammation can play a major role in the development CVD, and that people with periodontal disease may pose an elevated risk for CVD. Although more research is needed to better understand the connection between CVD and periodontal disease, you should not be alarmed if your periodontist asks you about your heart health or if your primary care physician or cardiologist questions you regarding your periodontal health.
Periodontal disease can be a complication of diabetes. Research has shown that people with inadequately controlled Type 2 diabetes are more apt to developing periodontal disease. However, the risk does not go just one way. People who have periodontal disease might find that it is more difficult to control their levels of blood sugar, which poses the risk for diabetic complications. If you are a diabetic, your periodontal health is something that should be closely maintained.
Research has shown that women who have periodontal disease may have an increased risk of pregnancy complications, such as babies with low birth weight or delivering pre-term. More research is being conducted to determine the exact relationship, but a periodontal evaluation should be scheduled by expectant mothers to ensure that their periodontal health is at its best.
Studies have suggested that bacteria found in the mouth can be introduced into the respiratory tract and cause an inflammatory reaction of the lungs, known commonly as pneumonia. Also, periodontal disease may worsen existing chronic lung conditions. Anyone with lung or respiratory problems should consider a complete oral health screening to determine the presence of gum disease, if any.
Since a connection has been shown between periodontal and other chronic diseases, you should strive to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Most importantly, be sure to brush your teeth at least twice every day and floss at least once each day. Additionally, you should receive a comprehensive periodontal exam (CPE) each year from either your general dentist or your periodontist. Doing this will help ensure that your periodontal health is at its best, which can help to keep your entire body healthy.
There are three types of gum grafting surgery: Connective tissue, free gingival, and pedicle. The type your doctor uses will depend on the patient’s unique situation, the degree of gum disease that they have experienced, or the specific needs of the patient.
Connective Tissue Grafts are the most common form of gum grafts. This form is used to treat root exposure around one or more teeth. During the procedure, the doctor will cut a flap of skin from the roof of patients mouth and remove tissue from under the flap. The flap is then stitched back down. The excised tissue will then be stitched to the gum tissue surrounding the exposed root. In time, the attached tissue will grow together with the existing gum tissue, thus forming a healthier gum line around the tooth.
The free gingival graft procedure is very similar to a connective tissue graft except that instead of cutting a flap to remove tissue underneath, a small amount of tissue is taken directly from the roof of the mouth. This tissue is then placed and attached directly to the gum area being treated. Doctors prefer this method for patients that have naturally thin gums.
The pedicle graft method does not take graft tissue from the roof of the mouth. Instead, the gum tissue is grafted from existing tissue around the tooth needing repair. With this method, the flap, called a pedicle, is partially cut away so that one edge remains attached. The flap is then pulled over to cover the exposed root and sutured in place. The pedicle graft method is preferred for patients who have plenty of gum tissue near the tooth needing repair.
Along with natural grafts from the patient, some doctors prefer to use graft material from a tissue bank or synthetic material.
After the procedure patients should follow all instructions your doctor gives you for post-operative care. Do not floss or brush the gum line that was treated until the area has healed and you are instructed to do so. A special mouthwash may be prescribed that will help control plaque and bacteria during this time.
For about a week after the gum grafting procedure, the patients diet will be limited to soft foods such as eggs, pasta, Jell-O, and yogurt. Pain tolerance can vary from patient to patient and depends on many variables, including the type of gum graft performed. The doctor will likely recommend an over the counter anti-inflammatory medication or, in rare cases, a prescription pain medication. Many patients can return to work within a day or two.