Pyorrhea – Dealing with Advanced Gum Disease

Pyorrhea is the advanced stage of gum infection. It is the stage at which the connective ligaments that hold the gums and teeth together have become so inflamed that they begin to decay.

denturePyorrhea is the stage at which the gums begin to peel away from the teeth, leaving deep pockets that can catch food particles you can’t remove by brushing and flossing. These trapped food particles feed even more bacteria causing even more inflammation, until the infection eventually loosens teeth altogether and invades the surrounding bone.

You can get pyorrhea even if you have already lost your teeth. Poorly fitting dentures are a major risk factor for this kind of infection. But even if your gums are in this advanced state of decay, there is hope. Here are five things you need to know to get the right treatment at the right time.

  1. The symptoms of pyorrhea can slip up on you.
  2. Pyorrhea is often painless. Here’s what to be on the lookout for:

    • Loose teeth
    • Pus coming out of the gums
    • Teeth that seem to be getting longer and narrower
    • Teeth pointing right or left
    • Ulcers in the lining of your mouth, not just in your gums.

  3. Once the symptoms of pyorrhea occur, the disease can only be corrected by dental treatment.
  4. At a minimum, your dentist will probably have to do a deep cleaning. This procedure gets rid of plaque both above and below the gum line. It also gets rid of rough places on the root of the tooth where bacteria can accumulate. The procedure hurts, and it is not cheap. The complete treatment costs US $1,000 and up.

  5. After your dentist has treated pyorrhea, it’s up to you to keep it from coming back.

  6. You need to brush after every meal and floss every day, but you need to brush and floss gently. Brush your teeth, not your gums. Floss between your teeth, but don’t jam the floss into your gums. Waxed floss can keep you from pulling out fillings and crowns.

  7. Treating pyorrhea can save you other health problems.

  8. Your risk of heart attack, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and pneumonia are all greater when the inflammation caused by pyorrhea is not checked. Treating the gum disease, however, reduces the risk of these other problems.

  9. Smoking is the biggest controllable risk factor for the recurrence of pyorrhea.
  10. Smokers are at greater risk for pyorrhea coming back after treatment. Tobacco smoke kills the healthy bacteria that keep plaque bacteria in check.

Smokers are more likely to lose their teeth, and they are more likely to have bleeding where the gum line meets their teeth. Reducing the number of cigarettes smoked every day or quitting altogether reduces these problems.

Selected References:

Ertel A, Eng R, Smith SM. The differential effect of cigarette smoke on the growth of bacteria found in humans. Chest. 1991;100:628-630.

van Winkelhoff AJ, Bosch-Tijhof CJ, Winkel EG, van der Reijden WA. Smoking affects the subgingival microflora in periodontitis. J Periodontol. 2001;72:666-671.