What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is a bacterial infection that destroys the attachment fibers and supporting bone that hold the teeth in place.
The gums, ligaments and bone around the teeth form the foundation of one's teeth. All structures are also collectively referred to as the periodontium. When the periodontium is unhealthy, it jeopardizes the teeth similar to how a bad foundation would threaten the stability of a house.
The main cause of Periodontal disease if the formation of bacterial plaque and calculus on the teeth. If allowed to build up, pockets form between the gum and tooth.
Photo Credit: health.harvard.edu
There are three main stages of periodontal disease:
- Gingivitis: The mildest form of periodontal disease. The gums become red, swollen and bleed easily. There is little to no discomfort at this stage. Gingivitis is reversible with professional treatment and proper homecare.
- Mild Periodontitis: Plaque and calculus spread below the gumline, inflammation occurs and pockets begin to form. Symptoms are usually minimal. Gingivitis left untreated leads to early stages of periodontal disease.
- Moderate to Advanced Periodontitis: More involved gum tissue and bone destruction occurs, deeper pockets and possible tooth mobility leading to loss of teeth.
What are the Risk Factors for Periodontal Disease?
- Smoking/Tobacco Use
- Clenching/Grinding your Teeth
- Systemic Diseases
- Poor Nutrition and Obesity
Common Signs of Periodontal Disease
- Gums that are red, swollen or tender
- Bleeding while brushing, flossing or eating hard foods
- Gums that are receding or pulling away from the teeth
- Loose or separating teeth
- Pus between teeth or gums
- Persistent bad breath
- Changes in the position or bone of your teeth
- Changes in the fit of a partial denture
Any of these may be a sign of a problem. Gum disease is often silent, meaning symptoms may not appear until an advanced stage of the disease.
What is the treatment for Periodontal Disease?
With proper gum treatments, it is possible to return your gum tissue to a healthy state. Specific treatment depends on each individual's current state and how far the disease has progressed. At Mason Periodontics, our team believes periodontal health should be achieved in the least-invasive and most cost effective manner.
If caught early, non-surgical procedures including Scaling and Root Planing, Local Antimicrobial Delivery, and Laser Decontamination may be effective methods for achieving Periodontal Health.
When the disease is more advanced, further treatment may be necessary. Some options may include Pocket Reduction Surgery, Bone Regeneration or Tooth Extraction.
Once the disease has been arrested, patients are seen regularly for supportive periodontal maintenance cleanings. Periodontal disease is often chronic, and without ongoing maintenance treatment can reoccur.
Benefits of Treatment
1. Improve Overall Systemic Health
Research has shown that bacteria that causes periodontal disease can travel through the blood stream and affect other areas of the body and ultimately cause heart disease, respiratory infections, rheumatoid arthritis and even obesity. The scaling and root planing procedure removes the bacteria that can cause these conditions
2. Prevent Tooth Loss
When the pockets around the teeth exceed 3mm in depth, the risk of developing periodontal disease increases because it becomes difficult to regularly clean these areas as a toothbrush cannot reach that far below the gums. As pockets increase in depth, more bacteria group together and ultimately cause a chronic inflammatory response by the body leading to destruction of your gingiva and bone surrounding the teeth. This eventually leads to mobility and tooth loss.
3. Improve the Esthetics of your Smile
Scaling and root planing may make your mouth more esthetically pleasing as it can reduce bad breath, lead to less crowding of teeth, and remove stains and dark or yellow build-up on the teeth.
If you are having a problem, come in and see us so we can treat it right away!