Category Archives: Periodontal Disease

Genes for Tooth Decay and Gum Disease

Healthy teeth and gums are important for maintaining your overall health, and it all begins with good oral hygiene habits. But if you’re genetically predisposed to tooth decay or gum disease, you have a higher risk of developing oral health problems, regardless of how well you brush and floss. Even if you have the genetic markers for periodontal disease, though, there are still things you can do to keep your teeth and gums healthy and prevent existing conditions from getting worse.

A Genetic Predisposition to Tooth Decay

When bacteria collects on your teeth, it forms a sticky film called plaque, which generates acid that can break down your tooth enamel. This damage leads to cavities. If left untreated, cavities can grow to affect deeper layers of your teeth and gums.

Cavities often develop as a result of poor oral hygiene, but there are people who are more susceptible to tooth decay because of the way their bodies respond to bacteria. In a study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, researchers evaluated over 300 saliva samples and found that people with a G-20A variant of the beta-defensin 1 (DEFB1) gene had a significantly higher rate of decayed teeth, fillings, and missing teeth. Scientists theorize that people with this variation of DEFB1 have a harder time fighting off plaque-causing bacteria that colonize on the teeth and form cavities.

Chronic and Aggressive Periodontal Disease Runs in Families

According to the European Federation of Periodontology, genetics is also a risk factor for developing both chronic periodontitis and aggressive periodontitis. Chronic periodontal disease is characterized by persistent inflammation of the gum tissue, usually in older adults.  Aggressive periodontal disease involves rapid deterioration of the bone around the teeth, usually at a relatively young age.

While research is ongoing to determine the exact genetic basis of gum disease, scientists have identified 38 genes associated with the increased risk of developing periodontitis. One in particular, the FAM5C gene, has been linked to aggressive periodontal disease. FAM5C has also been implicated in cardiovascular disease; the common factor connecting both conditions may be general inflammation in the body.

Taking Care of Your Teeth and Gums

If you suspect you may be genetically predisposed to gum disease, genetic tests are available to determine your potential risk. Learning this information can help to identify early intervention strategies that will keep your teeth and gums healthy for years to come. Even if you are susceptible to oral health problems, there are some things you can do to prevent serious complications. For example:

1. Always Practice Good Oral Hygiene

Brushing and flossing are important for everyone, but they’re particularly crucial for those with elevated risk of gum disease and tooth decay.

2. Visit Your Dentist for Regular Cleanings and Check-ups

Staying on top of your dental exams can help your care providers discover and diagnose potential problems before they get out of control.

3. Quit Smoking

According to the American Academy of Periodontology, smoking is one of the most significant risk factors for the development and progression of periodontitis

4. Eat a Healthy Diet

Research has linked obesity to periodontal disease, and a diet lacking in nutrients can make it hard for your immune system to fight off the bacteria that causes both tooth decay and gum infection.

5. Get a Comprehensive Periodontal Evaluation

A periodontist who specializes in the prevention and treatment of periodontal disease can examine your teeth, gums, and bone structure to pinpoint areas of concern and help you establish an appropriate oral care routine.

Treat & Prevent Gum Disease at San Diego Periodontics & Implant Dentistry

If You’re Experiencing the Symptoms of Gum Disease, San Diego Periodontics & Implant Dentistry Can Give You the Treatment You Need to Improve Your Oral Health. We Treat All Periodontal Disease Stages, From the Early Phases of Gingivitis to Advanced Periodontitis. With Comprehensive Treatment and Diligent Oral Hygiene Habits, Dr. Kwok Can Help You Recover From Gum Disease and Maintain Great Dental Health for Years to Come.
To Schedule a Consultation With Dr. Kwok, Call Our Office at (619) 543-0905.

Gum Disease Treatment and Diabetes

Millions of Americans have type 2 diabetes, a chronic condition that impacts the body’s ability to process blood sugar. Since diabetes primarily affects your blood vessels, the repercussions can ripple throughout your body, causing damage to your heart and kidneys, and wreaking havoc on your oral health.

The link between diabetes and gum disease is well documented, with research showing that people with diabetes have a higher risk of developing gingivitis and periodontitis. But recently, a study in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology Journal found that the relationship goes both ways – gum disease can also make it difficult for diabetes patients to control their blood sugar levels. The good news is that treating gum disease can help improve their symptoms.

The Link Between Diabetes and Gum Disease

Periodontal disease is a persistent infection of the gums, characterized by redness, swelling, and bleeding. Left untreated, chronic gum inflammation can impact the surrounding bone and lead to tooth loss. People with diabetes are more susceptible to gum disease because their elevated blood glucose levels make it harder for the immune system to fight off the bacteria located beneath the gum line.

Studies have also shown that diabetics with poor blood sugar control experience more severe periodontal disease than those who have their conditions in check. But the presence of gum disease can also contribute to higher blood sugar levels in patients with diabetes. The link between these two serious health issues goes both ways, creating a negative feedback loop that can lead to an overall decline in wellbeing.

How Treating Gum Disease Helps People With Diabetes

A recent study of 264 patients suffering from both type 2 diabetes and periodontitis showed that treating gum disease can significantly improve the symptoms of diabetes. Not only did participants see improvement in their blood glucose levels, but their kidney and blood vessel function increased as well. While there is no definitive explanation as to why this happens, researchers theorize that treating the infection related to periodontal disease reduces systemic inflammation, which is believed to be a major cause of diabetes complications.

Treatment for periodontal disease in this study included whole mouth scaling and surgical therapy. Periodontal scaling removes dental plaque and hardened tartar from below the gum line; it’s usually accompanied by root planing, which smooths the tooth root to encourage reattachment of the gum. Pocket reduction surgery, also known as osseous surgery, is a surgical treatment that can halt the spread of bacteria and save bone tissue from being destroyed.

Preventing Gum Disease in People With Diabetes

Everyone should prioritize their oral health, but it’s especially important for people who suffer from diabetes, since taking good care of your teeth and gums can also help you better manage your blood sugar. Here are a few ways that people with diabetes can minimize the risk of developing gum disease:

  • Practice Good Oral Hygiene

Brush your teeth twice a day, for two full minutes. Be sure you gently brush teeth and gums. Also, don’t forget to floss at least once a day to remove food particles and plaque that brushing can’t reach.

  • Keep Your Glucose Levels Under Control

Since high blood sugar levels can encourage bacterial growth beneath your gums, make sure you’re following your doctor’s orders with regard to diabetes treatment.

  • Visit the Dentist Regularly

While some people can get away with a single biannual visit to the dentist, people with diabetes may benefit from seeing their dentist more often for cleanings, x-rays, and evaluation.

  • See a Periodontist for Serious Concerns

If you think you may have gum disease, a periodontist can give you a comprehensive exam and recommend a course of treatment. Signs of periodontal disease include red, swollen, or bleeding gums, as well as persistent bad breath or loose teeth.

Optimize Your Oral Health at San Diego Periodontics & Implant Dentistry

While periodontal disease is frustrating and destructive, it is also highly treatable. San Diego Periodontics can design a course of treatment to reduce gum inflammation and improve the health of your smile. To find out more about our state-of-the-art, minimally invasive periodontal services, call us at (619) 543-0905.

why gums bleed when brushing teeth

If your gums bleed when you brush your teeth, you might not think much of it. But even though a little pink-tinged toothpaste in the sink twice a day may seem inconsequential, it could be a sign of a big problem.

Healthy gums aren’t supposed to bleed, even a little, and especially not every day. There could be a number of different reasons why your gums are bleeding, from incorrect hygiene habits to chronic health conditions. Here are a few of the most common causes of bleeding gums.

1. You’re brushing and/or flossing too hard

Daily flossing and twice-daily brushing is an essential part of maintaining a healthy mouth. But using too much force when cleaning your teeth and gums can damage your gums, causing the gumline to erode. Signs of receding gums include soreness and bleeding, and left untreated, they can eventually lead to tooth loss.

Solution: The American Dental Association recommends using a soft-bristled toothbrush and non-abrasive toothpaste. And when brushing and flossing, remember to apply gentle pressure, and go easy on your gums to prevent damage.

2. You have gum disease

A telltale sign of periodontal disease are gums that bleed easily when you brush or floss. In its early stages, gum disease takes the form of gingivitis, causing redness, swelling, and irritation where your gums meet the base of your teeth. Gingivitis can progress to a more serious gum disease known as periodontitis, which infects the deeper layer of soft tissue and can cause damage to your teeth and bones.

Solution: After a comprehensive oral exam, your dentist will recommend the right course of action to treat your gum disease. Depending on the severity and location of the infection, you may need professional cleaning, scaling and root planing, or surgical treatments. Most gum disease results from poor oral hygiene habits, so be you’re sticking to a regular recommended brushing and flossing routine, too.

3. You have an abscessed tooth

When a cavity or crack in your tooth goes untreated, harmful bacteria can enter the crevices and infect the dental pulp, an area of your tooth containing blood vessels and nerves. An infection at this depth can cause the tooth root to swell, creating tender, inflamed gums. Brushing and flossing along the area can not only incite bleeding, but it may be very painful as well.

Solution: To treat an abscessed tooth, your dentist may drain the area or perform a root canal to heal the infection while saving the tooth. In severe cases, though, the tooth itself must be extracted to completely eliminate the infection.

4. Your dentures or partials don’t fit properly

Dentures should feel comfortable and allow you to eat, speak, and smile with ease. But over time, as you experience bone loss in your jaw, your mouth will change shape, causing your once-comfortable dentures to become ill-fitting. Ill-fitting dentures can irritate your gums, causing pain, discomfort, and bleeding, and ignoring these symptoms can lead to long-term health issues, such as mouth ulcers or infections.

Solution: To prevent continued bone loss in your jaw, consider dental implants. Since dental implants mimic the structure of a natural tooth root, your jawbone gets the stimulation needed to maintain its density. And unlike dentures, dental implants prevent receding gumlines, keeping your gum tissues healthy and supporting your existing natural teeth.

5. You have an underlying health condition

Sometimes, bleeding gums can be caused by something other than your oral health or hygiene. For example, if you’re on a blood thinner, such as heparin or warfarin, you may bleed more easily when you brush your teeth. Pregnant women can also experience bleeding gums due to hormonal changes that contribute to inflammation, and occasionally, pregnancy-related gingivitis. Additionally, certain vitamin deficiencies can cause weakened gum tissue and impede your body’s ability to heal.

Solution: Ensure you’re eating a healthy diet, with plenty of Vitamin C. And if you’re concerned that an underlying medical condition may be causing your gums to bleed, make an appointment with your doctor for a full physical exam.

San Diego Periodontics & Implant Dentistry can treat your bleeding gums

Whatever the cause of your bleeding gums, San Diego Periodontics & Implant Dentistry can help you find the solution. Dr. Kwok is committed to understanding your periodontal problems, devising appropriate treatment plans, and providing the best service possible in a safe, comfortable, and professional environment.

Call us at (619) 543-0905 and let us help you develop a plan for long-term periodontal health.

Why You Need to Make Oral Health a Priority

Brushing and flossing your teeth is an important part of your daily routine – and not just because you need to maintain a healthy mouth. Neglecting your oral health can negatively affect your mind, your body, and your budget. Skimp out on your oral hygiene habits and you could be headed for disaster. Here are just a few reasons why you should make your oral health a priority.

Oral Health is linked to overall health

Taking care of your teeth and gums is a crucial step in taking care of the rest of your body. Numerous studies have found a correlation between gum disease and an array of other health conditions, such as:

  • Cardiovascular disease

According to a statement from the American Heart Association, the chronic inflammation and infection associated with gingivitis have been linked to heart disease, stroke, and atherosclerosis.

  • Diabetes

Research reported by the American Diabetes Association suggests that serious gum disease can negatively impact blood glucose control, potentially leading to significant progression of the disease.

  • Memory loss

A study from the University of Central Lancashire School of Medicine and Dentistry concluded that specific gum disease bacteria can contribute to changes in the brain related to Alzheimer’s Disease, worsening symptoms such as confusion and memory loss.

  • Pregnancy

According to the March of Dimes, studies have shown that pregnant women with advanced gum disease have a higher incidence of premature birth, and their children experience lower birthweights.

Poor oral hygiene leads to low self-esteem

Gum disease has a lot of unpleasant symptoms, such as bad breath, bright red gums, and loose or missing teeth. This can impact your appearance and your willingness to interact with others, damaging your self-confidence and your overall quality of life. According to a 2017 study by the National Institute of Health, common dental disorders such as tooth decay, trauma, or tooth loss can have a profound negative effect on a person’s self-esteem, starting in adolescence. By practicing good oral hygiene and taking care of your teeth and gums, you’ll be able to show off a comfortable, confident smile – and you’ll feel better about yourself.

Treatment for oral disease can be costly

When it comes to your oral health, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Poor oral hygiene habits can lead to gum disease. Left untreated, gum disease can progress to severe infections and tooth loss, requiring expensive and extensive surgeries and treatments to repair the damage. It’s far easier – and more affordable – to prevent the destructive side effects of periodontal disease than it is to treat it after the harm is already done.

Improve your oral health with proper dental care

There are a few simple things you can do to prioritize your oral health and prevent complications from gum disease and tooth decay.

  • Practice daily dental care

The American Dental Association recommends twice-daily brushing for two minutes per session using a fluoride toothpaste, as well as daily flossing between the teeth.

  • Visit your dentist regularly

In addition to removing plaque and tartar buildup, your dentist will take x-rays of your mouth and perform visual inspections to prevent the progression of oral disease.

  • Don’t ignore the signs of gum disease

If you experience regular bleeding when you brush your teeth, have swollen or painful gums, or have bad breath that won’t go away, speak to your dentist about being treated for periodontal disease.

San Diego Periodontics & Implant Dentistry prioritizes your oral health

Prioritizing your oral health means partnering with a care provider that understands your periodontal needs and can provide you with the best possible service. At San Diego Periodontics, we’re committed to the health and comfort of all our patients, and we offer the latest and most minimally invasive periodontal treatments in a safe and friendly environment.

For more information on how San Diego Periodontics can help you prioritize your oral health, call us at (619) 543-0905.

Perio Maintenance Vs Scaling and Root Planing (SRP/Deep Cleaning) Vs ProphyYour oral health has implications for your overall well-being. Not only does advanced gum disease lead to tooth loss, but research has also linked gum disease to other health conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease.

Professional dental cleanings are an essential component of preventing gum disease, but there’s no one-size-fits-all treatment for maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Different patients may require different cleaning procedures, depending on the state of their oral health.

For Patients with Good Oral Health: Regular Cleaning

Brushing and flossing twice a day is crucial, but even if you practice excellent oral hygiene, plaque buildup is still inevitable. If it’s not removed regularly, it can eventually harden into unsightly tartar, or cause gum infections. For patients with healthy teeth and gums, regular teeth cleanings – or prophylaxis – is sufficient to remove plaque and prevent inflammation.

During regular cleanings, a dental hygienist will use a small handheld instrument called a scaler to scrape tartar from your teeth, or an ultrasonic device to shake plaque loose. Prophylaxis takes place on the crowns of your teeth, above the gumline, and most people with good oral health can maintain their smile with twice-yearly prophylactic cleanings.

For Patients with Periodontal Disease: Deep Cleaning

For almost half of the dental patients in the United States, regular prophylaxis isn’t enough to maintain optimal oral health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 47% of American adults aged 30 and over have some form of periodontal disease, a gum infection that can damage the tissue and bone that supports your teeth. The mildest form of gum disease is gingivitis, which causes red, swollen gums that bleed easily. Left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, resulting in severe deterioration of the gums and bone, and with time, tooth loss.

Fortunately, there is a proven way to help reverse the effects of mild to moderate gum disease. A 1981 study conducted at the University of Michigan found that scaling and root planing, also known as a deep cleaning, was effective in treating patients with mild to moderate gum disease.

During scaling, your dentist or dental hygienist will remove the plaque and tartar from your teeth, both above and below your gumline, using handheld instruments, ultrasonic instruments, or a combination of both. Once your teeth are cleaned via scaling, the dental practitioner will then perform root planing to smooth out the roots of your teeth. This two-step process creates a better environment for your gums to reattach back to your teeth, effectively closing any loose pockets.

Periodontal Maintenance After a Deep Cleaning

After you’ve undergone a deep cleaning or periodontal surgery you’ll need to keep regular periodontal maintenance visits to maintain your gums and prevent the recurrence of gum disease. A 1984 study in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology showed that harmful, disease-causing bacteria recolonizes underneath the gums as early as one to two months after a deep cleaning. This is why those with a past history of gum disease should return for periodontal maintenance approximately every three months.

During a periodontal maintenance visit, your pocket depths are measured and your periodontal status is reassessed. While standard prophylaxis cleans the crowns of your teeth above your gumline, periodontal maintenance goes a little deeper, slightly below the gumline, since you are more susceptible to plaque and tartar buildup based on your past history of gum disease.

To ensure optimal oral health, and preserve the integrity of your teeth and gums, patients should visit the dentist every three months for periodontal maintenance. However, the exact intervals may vary depending on the precise condition of your gums.

Maintain your Oral Health with help from San Diego Periodontics & Implant Dentistry

At San Diego Periodontics & Implant Dentistry, we offer a periodontal maintenance program that is customized to fit the needs of each individual patient. Dr. Kwok will evaluate your dental history and the overall state of your teeth and gums, and prepare a treatment plan to optimize your oral health. For questions on our periodontal maintenance program, or your dental health in general, please call our office at (619) 543-0905.

The LANAP protocol illustration

An astonishing 64.7 million American adults have some form of gum disease, according to a 2012 research study titled Prevalence of Periodontitis in Adults in the United States: 2009 and 2010. That is nearly half of all American adults (47.2%), meaning one out of every two American adults suffer from either mild, moderate, or severe periodontitis. For years, gum disease has been treated with the same traditional surgery, but recently a new treatment method has emerged. The Laser-Assisted New Attachment Procedure, better known as the LANAP protocol, is a more efficient and effective way to treat periodontitis. Here is a selection of some of the most frequently asked questions about the LANAP protocol.

What is the LANAP Protocol?

The LANAP protocol is a treatment for gum disease that uses the PerioLase® MVP-7™ laser, allowing for a minimally invasive alternative to surgery. The LANAP protocol gives the potential to stimulate the growth of damaged parts of the gum tissue and mouth, including regrowing new periodontal ligament, new alveolar bone, and new cementum. Without these three components, complete oral functioning is not possible.

Who is a Candidate for LANAP Protocol?

Any individual with moderate to severe periodontal disease may be eligible for the LANAP protocol. This method is especially useful for patients who are fearful of surgery and don’t want to go “under the knife.”

What Should I Expect During the Procedure?

Before beginning the LANAP protocol, you will first be anesthetized with local anesthesia, where it will make the area numb. Then a tiny laser, no thicker than three human hairs, is inserted in between the gum and tooth, clearing away any infection or disease in the area. Once any damage is removed, the roots of the tooth will be scrubbed clean of any tartar and plaque. Afterwards the laser will be used again at a different setting to create a blood clot to seal the pocket. Once the procedure is complete the patient can drive themselves home or even return to work.

Can the LANAP Protocol Treat My Entire Mouth?

Yes it is possible for the LANAP protocol to treat the entire mouth in one session. In general, most patients like to split the procedure in two sessions based on chair time and comfort.

Will I Have Any Pain After the LANAP Protocol?

The LANAP protocol uses the PerioLase® MVP-7™ laser instead of a knife or scalpel, avoiding any kind of cutting into the gums and the need for stitches. This means that patients will have mild pain or discomfort after the operation. Typically over the counter pain medications for a few days afterwards is sufficient.

How Long Is the Recovery Process?

Since the LANAP protocol is minimally-invasive, there is little to no downtime after the procedure. Most patients can resume their everyday activities less than 24 hours after the LANAP protocol. However there are some dietary restrictions that we will discuss during your consultation.

Where Can I Find a Dentist Who Offers the LANAP Protocol?

Only dentists who have completed comprehensive LANAP training are certified to perform the LANAP protocol, and the dental practice must also have a PerioLase® MVP-7™ laser. If you would like to schedule a LANAP protocol consultation, please give us a call at (619) 543-0905.

patient at San Diego Periodontics & Implant Dentistry suffering from periodontal disease

One thing in this constantly fractured world all people have in common is the need to take care of our teeth. No matter where you live or what language you speak, as long as you have teeth in your mouth it is necessary to brush and floss them on a regular basis. If you fail to do so, the result can be long-lasting damage to your teeth, gums, and mouth. However, the dangers of poor oral hygiene go far beyond cavities and gum disease. Everything in our body is an interconnected ecosystem, and developing gum disease can negatively affect the health of your entire body. Research has shown a strong correlation between periodontal disease and heart issues, diabetes and other health problems. Continue reading