The inflammation and/or infection of the supporting tissues (gum and bone) of the teeth. Periodontal disease consists of:
The longer plaque and tartar are on teeth, the more harmful they become. The bacteria cause inflammation of the gums that is called “gingivitis.” In gingivitis, the gums become red, swollen and can bleed easily. Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease that can usually be reversed with daily brushing and flossing, and regular cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist. This form of gum disease does not include any loss of bone and tissue that hold teeth in place.
When gingivitis is not treated, it can advance to “periodontitis” (which means “inflammation around the tooth”). In Periodontitis, gums pull away from the teeth and form spaces (called “pockets”) that become infected. The body’s immune system fights the bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line. Bacterial toxins and the body’s natural response to infection start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place. If not treated, the bones, gums, and tissue that support the teeth are destroyed. The teeth may eventually become loose and have to be removed.
How is gum disease treated?
The main goal of treatment is to control the infection. The number and types of treatment will vary, depending on the extent of the gum disease. Any type of treatment requires that the patient keep up good daily care at home. The doctor may also suggest changing certain behaviors, such as quitting smoking, as a way to improve treatment outcome.
Deep cleaning (Scaling and Root Planing)
The dentist, periodontist, or dental hygienist removes the plaque through a deep-cleaning method called scaling and root planing. Scaling means scraping off the tartar from above and below the gum line. Root planing gets rid of rough spots on the tooth root where the germs gather, and helps remove bacteria that contribute to the disease. In some cases local anesthesia may be used to ensure patient comfort.
Evaluation of Initial Therapy
This is an appointment made 2 to 3 weeks after the completion of Initial Therapy. At this appointment, we check for healing of the supporting structures of the teeth and spot scale any areas of residual tartar. Our hygienist will then polish your teeth to ensure a smooth and bacteria free environment.
- Smoking. Need another reason to quit smoking? Smoking is one of the most significant risk factors associated with the development of periodontitis. Additionally, smoking can lower the chances of success of some treatments
- Hormonal changes in girls/women. These changes can make gums more sensitive and make it easier for gingivitis to develop
- Diabetes. People with diabetes are at higher risk for developing infections, including periodontal disease
- Stress. Research shows that stress can make it more difficult for our bodies to fight infection, including periodontal disease
- Medications. Some drugs, such as antidepressants and some heart medicines, can affect oral health because they lessen the flow of saliva. (Saliva has a protective effect on teeth and gums.)
- Illnesses. Diseases like cancer or AIDS and their treatments can also affect the health of gums
- Genetic susceptibility. Some people are more prone to severe periodontal disease than others
As a service to our patients, we provide a 3 month continuing care regimen to provide a professional prophylaxis, evaluate your home care and help you with your problems areas, if any. At each of these appointments, we will inform you of your progress in the management of your disease and discuss the frequency with which you should be treated.
At any time during your treatment at our office, if symptoms require the expertise of a specialist, we will refer you to a periodontist.