Gum Disease & Periodontal Maintenance
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection of the gums and surrounding bone, which gradually destroys the support of your natural teeth. Adults over 35 lose more teeth to gum disease than cavities, and three out of four adults are affected at some time in their life. However, since it is often pain-free until an advanced state, many people do not know they have the disease!
Periodontal disease is caused by bacterial plaque, a sticky colorless film that constantly forms on your teeth. If not removed by thorough brushing and flossing, plaque hardens into a rough substance known as calculus (or tartar) that produces toxins that irritate the gums and cause them to turn red, swell and bleed easily. If this irritation is prolonged, the gums separate from the teeth causing pockets (spaces) to form. As periodontal diseases progress, the supporting gum tissue and bone that holds teeth in place deteriorate. If left untreated, this leads to tooth loss. There are also many recent studies showing definitive links between periodontal disease and increased risk for heart attack or stroke, and, in pregnant women, preeclampsia, low birth weight, and preterm births.
There Are Two Stages Of Periodontal Disease:
- Gingivitis—is the early stage of periodontal disease. The gums become red and swollen, and bleed easily. At this stage, the disease can usually be reversed with a professional cleaning and improved home care.
2. Periodontitis—develops when gingivitis is left untreated. The gums and supporting bone of the teeth become damaged, often irreversibly, and may become loose, fall out, or need to be removed.
Important Risk Factors For Developing Periodontal Disease:
- Smoking or chewing tobacco
- Clenching and grinding your teeth
- Poor nutrition
Symptoms Of Periodontal Disease:
- Gums that bleed easily
- Gums that are red, swollen, or tender
- Permanent teeth that are loose or separating
- Receding gums
- Persistent bad breath or bad taste
- Pus between your gums and teeth
- Changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
Treating Periodontal Disease:
Periodontal treatments vary for each patient, depending on severity. The first step usually involves a special deep cleaning called “scaling and root planing.” In this treatment, we remove (or “scale”) the plaque and tartar down to the bottom of each periodontal pocket. The root surfaces of the teeth are then smoothed (or “planed”) to allow the gum tissue to heal and reattach to the teeth. This treatment requires more than one visit.
A 6-week follow-up visit is scheduled to determine if further treatment, such as periodontal surgery or being seen by a Periodontist (gum specialist) , is needed.
Once you are treated for gum disease, Dr. Dina will recommend more frequent periodontal maintenance visits, based on your specific needs. It is important to remember the goal is to stay ahead of any problems and keep your disease under control, rather than playing catch-up.