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Causes of Periodontal Disease

Causes of Periodontal Disease by Austin Dentist, Dr. Tor Gotun

Periodontal disease, which is also known as gum disease and periodontitis, is a progressive disease which, if left untreated, may result in tooth loss.  Gum disease begins with the inflammation and irritation of the gingival tissues which surround and support the teeth.  The cause of this inflammation is the toxins found in plaque which cause an ongoing bacterial infection.

The bacterial infection colonizes in the gingival tissue, and deep pockets form between the teeth and the gums.  If treated promptly by a periodontist, the effects of mild inflammation (known as gingivitis) are completely reversible.  However, if the bacterial infection is allowed to progress, periodontal disease begins to destroy the gums and the underlying jawbone, promoting tooth loss.  In some cases, the bacteria from this infection can travel to other areas of the body via the bloodstream.

Common Causes of Gum Disease

There are genetic and environmental factors involved in the onset of gum disease, and in many cases, the risk of developing periodontitis can be significantly lowered by taking preventative measures. 

Here are some of the most common causes of gum disease:

  • Poor dental hygiene - Preventing dental disease starts at home with good oral hygiene and a balanced diet.  Prevention also includes regular dental visits which include exams, cleanings, and x-rays.  A combination of excellent home care and professional dental care will preserve the natural dentition and support of bony structures.  When bacteria and calculus (tartar) are not removed, the gums and bone around the teeth become affected by bacterial toxins and can cause gingivitis or periodontitis, which ultimately lead to tooth loss.
  • Tobacco use – Research has indicated that smoking and tobacco use are some of the most significant factors in the development and progression of gum disease.  In addition to smokers experiencing a slower recovery and healing rate, smokers are far more likely to suffer from calculus (tartar) build-up on teeth, deep pockets in the gingival tissue, and significant bone loss. 
  • Genetic predisposition – Despite practicing rigorous oral hygiene routines, as much as 30% of the population may have a strong genetic predisposition to gum disease.  These individuals are six times more likely to develop periodontal disease than individuals with no genetic predisposition.  Genetic tests can be used to determine susceptibility and early intervention can be performed to keep the oral cavity healthy.
  • Pregnancy and menopause – During pregnancy, regular brushing and flossing is critical. Hormonal changes experienced by the body can cause the gum tissue to become more sensitive, rendering them more susceptible to gum disease.
  • Chronic stress and poor diet – Stress lowers the ability of the immune system to fight off disease which means bacterial infection can beat the body’s defense system.  Poor diet or malnutrition can also lower the body’s ability to fight periodontal infections, as well as negatively affecting the health of the gums.
  • Diabetes and underlying medical issues – Many medical conditions can intensify or accelerate the onset and progression of gum disease including respiratory disease, heart disease, arthritis and osteoporosis.  Diabetes hinders the body’s ability to utilize insulin which makes the bacterial infection in the gums more difficult to control and cure.
  • Grinding teeth – The clenching or grinding of teeth can significantly damage the supporting tissue surrounding the teeth.  Grinding one’s teeth is usually associated with a “bad bite” or the misalignment of the teeth.  When an individual is suffering from gum disease, the additional destruction of gingival tissue due to grinding can accelerate the progression of the disease.
  • Medication – Many drugs including oral contraceptive pills, heart medicines, anti-depressants, and steroids affect the overall condition of teeth and gums, making them more susceptible to gum disease.  Steroid use promotes gingival overgrowth, which makes swelling more commonplace and allows bacteria to colonize more readily in the gum tissue.

Treatment of Gum Disease

Periodontists specialize in the treatment of gum disease and the placement of dental implants.  A periodontist can perform effective cleaning procedures in deep pockets such as scaling and root planing; they can also prescribe antibiotic and antifungal medications to treat infection and halt the progression of the disease. 

In the case of tooth loss, the periodontist is able to perform tissue grafts to promote natural tissue regeneration, and insert dental implants if a tooth or several teeth are missing.  Where gum recession causes a “toothy” looking smile, the periodontist can recontour the gingival tissue to create an even and aesthetically pleasing appearance.

Preventing periodontal disease is critical in preserving the natural dentition.  Addressing the causes of gum disease and discussing them with your dentist will help prevent the onset, progression, and recurrence of periodontal disease.

If you have any questions or concerns about the causes or treatments pertaining to gum disease, please ask your dentist.

Testimonials.

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Testimonials

If you are reading this testimonial, I assume you are looking to alleviate pain in one or more of your teeth or to improve your smile cosmetically. Either way you can save yourself some time, stop right now and go make an initial evaluation appointment with Dr.Gotun and his staff at their cozy, comfortable office with a relaxing peaceful view of Eanes Creek. You can search the 1200 or more listings in the Austin area and the BEST you could hope for would be to find another dentist equally as skilled and talented as Dr.Gotun. I do NOT think it is possible to get BETTER quality dental work than what you will get at this office.

The one thing that made everything so simple for me was the photographs. During the initial exam Dr.Gotun takes a series of photographs of your teeth along with x-rays. You then get to see your teeth on a laptop screen, in color, up close and larger than life. If you can live with what you see then you can count your blessings and Dr.Gotun will let you be on your way, unless of course you would like to schedule a cleaning!

In my case I could see the damage, decay and buildup from many years of poor oral hygiene and neglect. In addition to the problem teeth that brought me to the dental office I could easily see that most of my teeth were in need of some type of restoration work. Dr. Gotun has my permission to show all of my records to anyone interested in seeing them. I am sure you will be as amazed as I still am at what Dr. Gotun was able to accomplish considering the very poor condition my teeth were in at the start of the process.

The cost was substantial in my case due to amount of work that was required. However, the work was spaced out over several years which made the cost much easier to budget. Dr.Gotun was not on my dental insurance plan, so I accessed some savings and my credit to finance the work and paid it off like any other significant asset I have purchased. My teeth are the most rewarding investment I have ever made.

If I could give anyone one bit of advice other than my story, it would be “do NOT let dental insurance be the major factor that guides your decision-making”. I was never happy with any of the experiences or results I had when I tried to use the dentists that were covered under my plan. I am proof that 12 years on with regular flossing and brushing, the investment in your restoration work done by Dr.Gotun can still be yielding satisfaction and compliments from friends and random strangers.

I have never gone to bed without flossing and brushing after seeing those photographs in my initial visit. Good luck and I hope to be reading your success story here sometime in the future.

Chuck M. Austin, TX

Dr. Tor Gotun probably saved my life and he's added some years to it. You don't usually say that about your dentist, but I believe it in my case.

More than 10 years ago, after many years of neglecting my teeth and an unhealthy life style, I went to Tor, my neighborhood dentist, even though he wasn't on my State of Texas dental insurance network.

I soon learned of the challenges to getting my gums and teeth back to a healthy status. The way Tor explained it, I knew it was complex and that Tor had the skills and vision to get me there, as long as I did my part. I also knew it would take time and not be cheap.

Now, years later, I still have most of my original teeth and only a few very nice, state-of-the art crowns. I am following Tor's advice for taking care of my teeth and gums, including his regular cleaning schedule. What my dental insurance didn't cover, I was able to use Austin Smile Creations' association with Care Credit to finance the costs without any interest charges as long as I pay off balances within a year of each charge.

By the way, we had only one procedure that didn't work out as planned, but Tor made good on it and the solution turned out as good or better.

As a bonus, all of Tor's top flight members are both professional and personable, always considerate of my needs, interests, and schedule.

Bottom line, Tor is better than my expectations. He pays attention to more than just how my mouth looks; he's concerned about my overall health and how my life-style affects, and is affected by, the health of my teeth and gums.

Bill H. Austin, TX

I have been going to Dr. Gotun since he used to have his practice on William Cannon Drive ( 20 years now). Now he is located in Bee Caves. He is an excellent dentist.

The thing I like best about Tor Gotun is he is relatively pain free when administering his shots to numb your mouth. Dentists I have had before always seemed to be a bit heavy handed in this activity.

He is very up to date with modern dental technology. He can make a crown or cap in his office at the moment of your appointment and have you leave with a fully functioning mouth. I have friends who use other dentists who must wander the city of Austin for at least a week with a hollowed out molar stuffed with gauze as they await their topping to arrive by mail to their dentist's office.

The staff is very friendly, and Dr. Gotun will never talk down to you. He is very good at explaining why he is doing something or why he wants to do a procedure. He may have gotten two of my wisdom teeth, but I will still try to hold onto the remaining two regardless of his explaining the safety factors of hanging on to them as you get older.

Randy S. Austin, TX

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Austin Smile Creations
2724 Bee Cave Rd
Austin, TX 78746
Phone: (512) 329-5555 URL of Map
Austin Smile Creations Rated 4.7 / 5 based on 25 reviews. | Leave Us a Review