Periodontal (Gum) Disease
What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is a serious infection and the number one reason adults lose teeth. As periodontal disease advances, the infection can destroy the ligaments and bone that support your teeth.
What are the symptoms?
If you have periodontal disease—
- your gums may bleed when you brush or floss.
- your gums may be soft, swollen, or tender.
- your gums may start to pull away from your teeth.
- your teeth may become loose.
- you may have persistent bad breath.
It is also possible to have no noticeable symptoms. In fact, most people who have periodontal disease are not even aware of it.
What causes periodontal disease?
The main cause of periodontal disease is the long term build-up of plaque, the sticky, colorless film of food and bacteria that constantly forms on your teeth.
It is hard to see plaque, but plaque can clearly be seen after it is stained with a disclosing tablet. When plaque stays on your teeth for two or three days, it hardens into calculus, or tartar.
The bacteria in plaque invade the spaces between your teeth and gums and produce toxins. These toxins, combined with your body’s reaction to them, destroy the bone around your teeth. And once lost, bone never grows back on its own.
If there is not enough support for the teeth and they become loose, they might have to be removed.
Diagnosis and treatment
To determine if you have periodontal disease, we perform a thorough examination which includes taking x-rays to determine how much bone has been lost.
We measure the depth of the sulcus (a tiny groove between the tooth and gum) with a probe. A reading of more than 3 millimeters could be a sign of periodontal disease, and we pay careful attention to those areas.
If we find periodontal disease, we discuss your treatment options and proper homecare. We want to help you maintain the health of your teeth, gums and bone and restore your healthy smile.
Periodontal Treatment Options
Periodontal disease is a silent and very serious condition.
It usually does not hurt at first, and it can progress slowly, so you might be tempted to ignore it.
Periodontal disease is a chronic infection that can become painful and destroy the bone that supports your teeth. Eventually, so much bone may be lost that your tooth will become loose, and in severe cases, have to be removed.
If you are diagnosed with this disease, your options are limited.
Overall health contributor
The bacteria that cause periodontal disease may also contribute to heart disease, respiratory infections, diabetes and pancreatic cancer.
Periodontal bacteria are also suspected of causing complications with pregnancy and low birth weight babies.
For the long term health of your teeth, it is important to get the disease under control.
First, we thoroughly discuss all of your treatment options. We do not recommend delaying treatment because periodontal disease is incurable, but it is treatable.
Treatment includes performing a scaling and root planing procedure to remove plaque and tartar below the gumline. We might insert medicine at the infection site, and in certain cases, surgery may be necessary. We schedule cleanings more than twice a year and instruct you about focused homecare techniques.
We give you the best treatment for your particular needs.
Periodontal disease may be silent and serious, but the sooner you begin treatment, the better chance we have of bringing it under control.
3 Month Recare
Periodontal disease cannot be cured; it can only be controlled. That is why we need to examine the health of your gums at least every three months or sooner.
If periodontal disease is not closely monitored and controlled, the disease can quickly worsen, destroy bone and soft tissue, and eventually cause you to lose teeth.
Frequent maintenance visits are important
When we first find periodontal disease, we treat it with scaling and root planing to remove plaque, tartar and bacteria from beneath your gumline.
Removing plaque below the gumline
This treatment disrupts the growth of the bacteria, but some bacteria remain and may settle back into the pocket where they reproduce. In fact, the number of bacteria doubles every time they reproduce, reaching destructive levels in as few as 90 days.
Periodontal disease is unpredictable
It can be challenging to predict where in your mouth the symptoms of periodontal disease may recur or when, and frequently, it does not hurt. The only way to find and control periodontal disease is with a professional exam that specifically looks for the disease. This also means that a twice-a-year cleaning schedule just is not safe for those who have periodontal disease.
The maintenance appointment
It is important that you come in every three months, or more, for a periodontal maintenance appointment which may include:
- taking x-rays to check jawbone levels.
- measuring the depth of periodontal pockets.
- checking for loose teeth or bleeding gums.
- removing plaque above and below the gumline.
- talking with you about the effectiveness of your homecare.
If necessary, we may also re-treat the teeth with scaling and root planing or apply a medication or antimicrobial rinse.
Periodontal maintenance visits help us break the stronghold of bacteria in your gums and slow or eliminate their destructive effects.