What is Periodontal Disease?

 Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is also known as gum disease or periodontitis. This occurs when plaque bacteria at or below the gum line irritate the gums and trigger an inflammatory response, reddened tissue, swelling, and bleeding.

Gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontal disease. This causes redness, swelling, and bleeding of the gums. It can usually be reversed by daily brushing, flossing, and regular cleanings by a dental professional. If left untreated this can advance into periodontitis, which is more severe.

In periodontitis, a plaque bacterium continues to build below the gum line. When this happens, gums can separate from the teeth and create pockets that may become infected. These pockets can deepen, often resulting in destroyed gum and bone tissue. Deep pockets may also cause teeth to loosen, and these may end up having to be removed.

Periodontal disease is classified into four stages, ranging from the least severe stage I which could be mild or moderate to the most severe stage IV. Stages are determined by a number of factors, including pocket depth and bone loss. These factors are used to determine the rate of periodontal disease progression as categorized by one of three grades. Grade A is slow progression, B is moderate progression, and C rapid progression. Patient’s smoking habits and overall health such as diabetes can affect the severity and progression of periodontal disease.

Non-Surgical Treatment

Scaling and root planing is a deep cleaning below the gum line and is often a first step to treating periodontal disease. Plaque and tartar is a build up of disease-causing bacteria that your periodontist or hygienist will remove from areas that brushing and flossing cannot reach, including the roots of the teeth. In cases of mild periodontal disease known as gingivitis, undergoing a scaling and root planing can sometimes be enough to clear the developing infection and prevent further disease advancement.

In severe cases of periodontal disease scaling and root planing alone may not be sufficient for eliminating infection and restoring health and surgery may be needed.

Pocket Depth Reduction is one common surgical therapy. Advanced periodontal disease can destroy tissue, forming pockets in the spaces between the gums and teeth. Bacteria can accumulate in these pockets and cause further damage. During a pocket depth reduction, your periodontist will clear the pockets of infection and retighten the gum tissue to eliminate or reduce pockets.

Bone Grafting is the second common surgical therapy for periodontal disease. If periodontal disease has destroyed the bone and supporting your teeth, a regenerative procedure can reverse some of the damage. After removing the disease-causing bacteria, your periodontist may use membranes, bone grafts, or tissue-stimulating proteins to encourage your body’s natural ability to regenerate healthy bone tissue.

Root Coverage Procedures is the third common surgical therapy for periodontal disease. Root coverage procedures are often used to treat gums that have receded to the point that the roots of a tooth are exposed. Your periodontist will take gum tissue from the roof of your mouth to cover the root, and develop gum tissue where needed, or to make dental implants look more natural. This treatment protects exposed roots from decay and, in some cases, it may reduce tooth sensitivity. 

Dental implant is the fourth common surgical therapy for periodontal disease. If periodontal disease had led to tooth loss or damage; your periodontist can place a dental implant. A dental implant is an artificial tooth root that is inserted into your jaw to hold a replacement tooth or bridge. They are a long-term solution that look, feel, and function just like natural teeth.

Regular Maintenance

After undergoing any kind of periodontal treatment, your periodontist will likely advise you on ways to sustain the health of your gums. These may include follow-up visits, a daily hygiene routine of brushing and cleaning between the teeth, as well as the use of antibiotics or antimicrobials.

Risk Factors

Some main risk factors of periodontal Disease include but are not limited to

Poor oral health habits: Without twice-daily brushing and once-a-day flossing, there is an increased likelihood of plaque build up.

Age: Adults age 65 and over have higher incidences of periodontal disease, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Medications: Certain drugs can reduce the flow of saliva production; the mouth can become a breeding ground for bacteria. Certain blood pressure medications can cause gum enlargement, which creates periodontal pockets and increases the risk of tissue breakdown.

Tobacco Use: Users of cigarettes and chewing tobacco are at an increased risk of periodontal disease. Tobacco use is said to be one of the most significant risk factors in the development and progression of periodontal disease.

Genetic Predisposition: Research has found some individuals may be genetically susceptible to periodontal disease.

Call today to schedule a visit with our Board Certified Periodontist Dr. Folson who will work with you to treat your Periodontal disease.