Periodontal disease attacks the gum tissue and the bone that supports each tooth. This disease begins when plaque brushed away daily and calculus is not removed by a dental professional. Plaque is a sticky film that clings to the teeth. It is made up of food debris, bacteria and saliva. If plaque is not brushed off of the teeth daily it hardens and adheres to the teeth becoming Calculus(tartar). If plaque and calculus are not removed, they begin to disease the gum tissue and destroy the bone.
Periodontal disease is characterized by red, swollen and bleeding gums. Researchers link several serious medical problems to periodontal disease due to it is painless in the early stages and most people don’t even know they have it.
Good oral hygiene, a balanced diet that does not contain too many sugary drinks along with regular dental cleanings can help reduce your risk of developing periodontal disease.
Signs and Symptoms of gum disease:
- Bleeding/Red/Puffy Gums – Gums should not be swollen or bleed, even you are brushing and flossing.
- Tooth loss – Normally this is caused by bone loss or weakened periodontal fibers (fibers that support the teeth).
- Persistent bad breath – Caused by bacteria in the mouth and poor oral hygiene.
- New spacing or loose teeth – This is caused by the disease and bone loss.
This disease must be diagnosed by your dentist or dental hygienist during and examination. A small probe is gently used to measure the pocket or space between the tooth and gums. The space should be minimal but, as the disease progresses, the pockets get deeper and the “pocket” can no longer be kept clean.
Types of Periodontal Disease
Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease. Plaque that is not brushed away regularly inflames the gums making them tender, red and likely to bleed. This stage can be treated with regular dental cleanings and by, you, the patient. You must improve daily oral hygiene habits of brushing two times a day and flossing daily.
Periodontitis starts as calculus and plaque continue to build up on the teeth, and the gums begin to recede from the teeth. Deeper pockets form between the teeth and gums and fill with bacteria and pus. The gum tissue becomes inflamed and bleeds easily. Slight to moderate bone loss may be present. At this stage, the patient has to be treated by his/her dental professional, as the pockets are too deep for the patient to clean thoroughly.
Advanced Periodontitis is when the teeth lose more support as the gums, bone and periodontal ligament continues to be destroyed due to the disease. The affected teeth must be treated by a dental professional or they may become very loose and may be lost. Generalized moderate to severe bone loss may be present.
Treatment for Periodontal Disease
Treatment for periodontal disease depends upon the type and severity. Your dentist and hygienist will evaluate how far this disease has progressed and make a personalized treatment plan. In some cases the patient must have a consultation with our Periodontists.
If the disease has progressed to more advanced stages, a special periodontal cleaning called Scaling and Root Planing will be recommended. This “deep cleaning” is usually done in two quadrants of the mouth at once. The area is anesthetized and tartar, plaque and any diseased tissue is removed from above and below the gum line. Performing this procedure helps the gum tissue to heal and reduce the pockets to a healthy depth. If Scaling and Root planing does not heal this disease, periodontal surgery be necessary to reduce the pockets.
Maintenance after Deep Cleanings and/or Surgery
Daily home cleanings are most important to your maintenance phase. Once your periodontal treatment is completed, your dentist or hygienist will recommend regular periodontal maintenance cleanings. This usually occurs four times a year. Vigilant oral home care and in-office periodontal cleanings are essential in maintaining a healthy mouth to prevent the disease or maintain after surgery.