Start your Journey to Healthier Gums TodayPeriodontal disease is most often preceded by gingivitis which is a bacterial infection of the gum tissue. If left untreated, it can cause shifting teeth, loose teeth, and eventually tooth loss.
Why Gum Treatments?
The term “periodontal” means “around the tooth.” Periodontal disease (also known as periodontitis and gum disease) is a common inflammatory condition that affects the supporting and surrounding soft tissues of the tooth, eventually affecting the jawbone itself in the disease’s most advanced stages.
Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss among adults in the developed world and should always be promptly treated.
Types of Periodontal Disease:
- Chronic periodontitis – Inflammation within supporting tissues cause deep pockets and gum recession.
- Aggressive periodontitis – This form of gum disease occurs in an otherwise clinically healthy individual.
- Necrotizing periodontitis – This form of periodontal disease most often occurs in individuals suffering from systemic conditions such as HIV, immunosuppression and malnutrition.
- Periodontitis caused by systemic disease – This form of gum disease often begins at an early age.
There are a variety of effective treatments and procedures available, including bone grafting or pocket irrigation, which can assist in treating the progression of the disease.
A bone graft may be required to create a stable base for dental implant placement, to halt the progression of gum disease, or to make the smile appear more aesthetically pleasing.
Pocket irrigation aims to cleanse plaque from the interdental (between teeth) and sub-gingival (under the gum-line) regions of the mouth in order to prevent the colonization of harmful oral bacteria. This procedure is also used to deliver antibacterials to the sub-gingival areas.
What to Expect
Periodontal disease is diagnosed by your dentist or dental hygienist during a periodontal examination. This type of exam should always be part of your regular dental check-up.
A periodontal probe (small dental instrument) is gently used to measure the sulcus (pocket or space) between the tooth and the gums. The depth of a healthy sulcus measures three millimeters or less and does not bleed. The periodontal probe helps indicate if pockets are deeper than three millimeters. As periodontal disease progresses, the pockets usually get deeper.
Periodontal treatment methods depend upon the type and severity of the disease. Your dentist and dental hygienist will evaluate for periodontal disease and recommend the appropriate treatment.
Periodontal disease progresses as the sulcus (pocket or space) between the tooth and gums gets filled with bacteria, plaque, and tartar, causing irritation to the surrounding tissues. When these irritants remain in the pocket space, they can cause damage to the gums and eventually, the bone that supports the teeth!
If the disease is caught in the early stages of gingivitis, and no damage has been done, one to two regular cleanings will be recommended. You will also be given instructions on improving your daily oral hygiene habits and having regular dental cleanings.
If the disease has progressed to more advanced stages, a special periodontal cleaning called scaling and root planing (deep cleaning) will be recommended. It is usually done one quadrant of the mouth at a time while the area is numb. In this procedure, tartar, plaque, and toxins are removed from above and below the gum line (scaling) and rough spots on root surfaces are made smooth (planing). This procedure helps gum tissue to heal and pockets to shrink. Medications, special medicated mouth rinses, and an electric tooth brush may be recommended to help control infection and healing.
If the pockets do not heal after scaling and root planing, periodontal surgery may be needed to reduce pocket depths, making teeth easier to clean. Your dentist may also recommend that you see a periodontist (specialist of the gums and supporting bone).
It only takes twenty four hours for plaque that is not removed from your teeth to turn into calculus (tartar)! Daily home cleaning helps control plaque and tartar formation, but those hard to reach areas will always need special attention.
Once your periodontal treatment has been completed, your dentist and dental hygienist will recommend that you have regular maintenance cleanings (periodontal cleanings), usually four times a year. At these cleaning appointments, the pocket depths will be carefully checked to ensure that they are healthy. Plaque and calculus that is difficult for you to remove on a daily basis will be removed from above and below the gum line.
Good oral hygiene practices and periodontal cleanings are essential in maintaining dental health and keeping periodontal disease under control!
Your First Visit
There are many surgical and nonsurgical treatments the periodontist may choose to perform, depending upon the exact condition of the teeth, gums and jawbone. A complete periodontal exam of the mouth will be done before any treatment is performed or recommended.
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Frequently Asked Questions
- Professional dental cleaning – removes plaque and tartar from above and below the gum line.
- Scaling and root planing – under local anesthetic, plaque, and tartar are removed and scraped away (scaling), and teeth that have rough spots are smoothed (planing).
Typically, scaling and planing will treat gum disease. However, surgical treatment is needed when unhealthy tissue around the teeth cannot be restored without surgery.
- Flap surgery/pocket reduction
- Bone grafts
- Soft tissue grafts
- Guided tissue regeneration
- Bone surgery
- Tobacco use
- Poor dental hygiene
- Poor nutrition
- Certain medications, including steroids, oral contraceptives, or blood pressure medication
- HIV infection