The term “periodontal” means “around the tooth.” Periodontal disease affects the gums and bone supporting the teeth. Gum, or periodontal, disease can cause inflammation, tooth loss and bone damage. The infection starts when the gums become inflamed due to bacteria in plaque, a sticky, colorless film that forms on your teeth. While this is often the main cause of periodontal disease, other factors can also be attributed to affecting the health of the gums and bone, including:
- Smoking or Tobacco Use
- Poor Nutrition
Periodontal disease comes in many forms. Gingivitis is perhaps the mildest form of gum disease. While the gums become red, swollen and bleed easily, there is very little to no discomfort associated at this stage of the disease. Gingivitis does not result in any bone loss. Through a good oral hygiene regimen and treatment from your dentist, the results of gingivitis can be reversed.
Periodontitis is another form of periodontal disease and can be chronic or aggressive. Chronic periodontitis is one of the most common forms of periodontal disease and is frequently seen in adults. The stages progress slowly and can be recognized by gum recession and pocket formation. Aggressive periodontitis displays rapid bone destruction and attachment loss in clinically healthy patients.
Treatment and Prevention
Early cases of periodontitis are usually treated with “deep cleanings” called scaling and root planing. Antibiotic therapy may also be considered to help eliminate the bacteria in the gingival pockets where the bone loss is occurring. Patients with periodontal disease often require a more frequent interval for maintenance (every 3-4 months, rather than 6 months). In certain cases, periodontal surgery may be recommended to treat periodontal disease when non-surgical treatment is ineffective. We may advise procedures such as pocket reduction, soft tissue grafts or bone regeneration to treat periodontal disease. If a tooth has been lost due to periodontal disease, dental implants may be an option for permanent tooth replacement.
Good oral hygiene and regular visits with your dentist and periodontist can prevent periodontal disease. Daily brushing and flossing can keep plaque to a minimum and, in conjunction with professional cleanings 2-4 times a year, can keep your teeth healthy for life.