Facing the Facts About Periodontal Disease


What You Don’t Know Could Affect Your Health

Periodontal Disease! Say these words using a loud voice, and watch a room full of smiling people suddenly become tight-lipped!

Unfortunately, most people do not realize that treating periodontal disease at the onset can eliminate the problem of unsightly teeth and gums, offensive breath, and reduce the probability of losing your teeth. There is a catch… discovering periodontal problems when they are in an early stage.

Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection that affects the gums and bone supporting the teeth. It begins when the bacteria in plaque (the sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on your teeth) causes the gums to be inflamed. In its mildest form of disease, gingivitis, the gums redden, swell and bleed easily. At this stage, gingivitis is reversible with professional treatment and good oral home care.

However, untreated gingivitis can advance to periodontitis. With time, plaque can spread and grow beneath the gum line. The toxins that are produced by the bacteria in plaque irritate the gums. This in turn stimulates a chronic inflammatory response in which the body in essence turns on itself, and the tissues and bone that support the teeth are broken down and destroyed. The gums separate from the teeth, forming pockets (spaces between the teeth and gums) that become infected. As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed. Often this destructive process has very mild symptoms. Eventually, teeth can become loose and may have to be removed.

The medical impact of periodontal disease often reaches farther than the area of the teeth and gums. A recent article in USA Today linked heart disease with untreated gum disease. The article reported that “The most common strain of bacteria in dental plaque can cause blood clots that induce heart attacks when they escape into the bloodstream according to recent research. Mark Herzberg of the University of Minnesota said that the findings were the first to link bacteria to the formation of potentially fatal blood clots.”

The article also stated that “In lab tests, Herzberg and colleagues injected bacteria from dental plaque into the bloodstream of rabbits. The bacteria caused blood clots to form within minutes. Rabbits are a proven model for testing hypotheses about human heart disease and heart attacks. Additional studies presented at the meeting showed that bacteria in plaque also are linked to: A potentially fatal disease called infective endocarditis in which the sac around the heart becomes inflamed; lung infections in people with chronic lung disease such as obstructive pulmonary disease; a weekend immune system that can slow wound healing and diminish a person’s response to vaccines against hepatitis B and influenza, and a higher risk of giving birth to premature, low-birth weight infants.

Recent statistics show that periodontal disease affects all ages. Is has been found in 3-year old children. 50% of the population have signs of the disease by the age of 18 and 75% have periodontal disease by the 35. There are also many contributing factors that can create conditions that encourage the onset of advanced periodontal conditions. Stress and poor nutrition can make it difficult for the body to fight off infections that include periodontal disease. Medications such as oral contraceptives, anti-depressants, and heart medications can also affect your oral health. Clenching or grinding your teeth can put excess force on the supporting tissues of the teeth, thus speeding up the rate at which periodontal tissues are destroyed. Those who smoke are also at a higher risk for periodontal disease. And, genetic research shows that 30% of the population are at a risk for gum disease from the time of their birth.

Treatments for periodontal disease vary due to their degree of progression. The best way to determine whether of not your health is threatened by periodontal disease is to answer the following questionnaire. If your answer is “yes” to two or more of the questions, a periodontal check-up may help you save the health of your gums and teeth as well as preventing a disease that could ultimately affect your heart.

  • Do you ever experience pain in your mouth?
  • Do your gums ever bleed when you brush your teeth or when you eat hard food?
  • Have you noticed any spaces developing between your teeth?
  • Do your gums ever feel swollen or tender?
  • Have you noticed that your gums are receding (pulling back from your teeth) or that your teeth appear longer that before?
  • Do you have persistent bad breath?
  • Have you noticed pus between you teeth and gums?
  • Have you noticed any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite?
  • Do you ever develop sores in your mouth?

Dr. Porras

Dr. Porras

Houston, TX

Dr. Porras has an established practice in periodontics and implant dentistry in Houston. He attended a three-year residency at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston where he obtained a periodontal specialty certification and a Master of Science Degree. Dr. Porras also completed a rotational internship in anesthesiology at Spring Branch Memorial Hospital in Houston.

Throughout his career as a periodontist, Dr. Porras has treated a large variety of periodontal diseases and has avidly continued his education into all aspects of periodontology and implant dentistry while maintaining a large practice patient base in his practice. Dr. Porras is a surgeon that strongly believes in the benefits of periodontal regeneration and cosmetic periodontics.

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7500 San Felipe Suite 325
Houston, Texas
Texas Periodontal Associates