What is Periodontal (Gum) Disease?
The term “periodontal” means “around the tooth.” Periodontal disease (also known as periodontitis and gum disease) is a common inflammatory condition that affects the supporting and surrounding soft tissues of the tooth, eventually affecting the jawbone itself in the disease’s most advanced stages.
Periodontal disease is most often preceded by gingivitis which is a bacterial infection of the gum tissue. A bacterial infection affects the gums when the toxins contained in plaque begin to irritate and inflame the gum tissues. Once this bacterial infection colonizes in the gum pockets between the teeth, it becomes much more difficult to remove and treat. Periodontal disease is a progressive condition that eventually leads to the destruction of the connective tissue and jawbone. If left untreated, it can cause shifting teeth, loose teeth, and eventually tooth loss.
Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss among adults in the developed world and should always be promptly treated.
When left untreated, gingivitis (mild gum inflammation) can spread to below the gum line. When the gums become irritated by the toxins contained in plaque, a chronic inflammatory response causes the body to break down and destroy its own bone and soft tissue. There may be little or no symptoms as periodontal disease causes the teeth to separate from the infected gum tissue. Deepening pockets between the gums and teeth are generally indicative that soft tissue and bone is being destroyed by periodontal disease.
Treatment for Periodontal Disease
There are many surgical and nonsurgical treatments the dentist may choose to perform, depending upon the exact condition of the teeth, gums and bone. A complete periodontal exam of the mouth will be done before any treatment is performed or recommended.
Here are some of the more common treatments for periodontal disease:
Scaling and root planing – In order to preserve the health of the gum tissue, the bacteria and calculus (tartar) which initially caused the infection, must be removed. The gum pockets will be cleaned and treated with antibiotics as necessary to help alleviate the infection. A prescription mouthwash may be incorporated into daily cleaning routines.
Can be used in conjunction with Scaling and Root Planing to reduce the periodontal pocket. To learn more about the benefits of Arestin visit http://www.arestin.com/effectiveness/
Oral Irrigation- An antimicrobial rinse will assist in the reduction of periodontal pockets.
Tissue regeneration – When the bone and gum tissues have been destroyed, regrowth can be actively encouraged using grafting procedures. A membrane may be inserted into the affected areas to assist in the regeneration process.
Periodontal surgery – Periodontal surgery is a surgical treatment which can be performed by a periodontist (dentist who specializes in treating periodontal disease) to reduce the pocket size between the teeth and gums.
Please contact our office if you have questions or concerns about periodontal disease, periodontal treatment, or dental implants.