Periodontal disease ranges from a mild inflammation of the gum tissues to periodontitis, a major oral disease that can result in soft tissue and bone damage. Periodontitis is the leading cause of adult tooth loss in the United States.
One of the major causes of gum disease is practicing poor oral hygiene habits. Daily brushing and flossing and regular professional exams and cleanings are essential to maintaining optimal oral health. When these practices are not followed, plaque can form on the teeth and along the gumline. If this plaque is not properly removed, it may harden over time and become tartar. Once that occurs, only a dental professional can remove the tartar from teeth.
If left untreated, tartar can continue to collect. When this occurs, gum disease may advance to gingivitis. In this stage, gums redden, swell, and become prone to bleeding from normal activities, such as brushing or eating. Some other common symptoms include: chronic halitosis (bad breath), sensitive teeth, and difficulty or pain with chewing. At this point, professional periodontal treatment is needed to prevent the gingivitis from advancing to periodontitis.
When gingivitis is not treated in time, it may become periodontitis. Periodontitis is the most advanced form of periodontal disease. With periodontitis, gums begin to pull away from the teeth, creating small “pockets” along the gumline. These spaces are highly difficult to clean without professional intervention and can lead to rapid worsening in overall oral health. Without prompt and thorough treatment, bone, gums, and soft tissues may be destroyed by periodontitis.
Diagnosing Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease is diagnosed by our dentist or hygienist through a series of tests. First, we will check the depth of the gum pockets between your teeth and gums. Next, we will check for inflammation, bleeding, loose teeth, and bone loss. Based on our findings, we will determine the stage of your periodontal disease and recommend your treatment.
Stages of Periodontal Disease
- Gingivitis: the first stage of periodontal disease, characterized by inflamed, tender, bleeding gums, and plaque build-up.
- Periodontitis: the second stage of periodontal disease, characterized by plaque hardening into calculus (tartar), gum recession, deepening gum pockets, and early stages of bone loss.
- Advanced Periodontitis: the final stage of periodontal disease, characterized by destruction of gums, bone, and ligament tissues, loosening and loss of teeth, and more severe bone loss.
Treatment of Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease cannot be fully cured at this time. However, there are a variety of treatment options available. To recommend your particular treatment plan, we will start by employing conservative treatments based on your current stage of periodontal disease. We will follow up with you regularly during treatment to determine whether to continue with your current plan, advance to more aggressive treatment options, or shift into the maintenance care phase of treatment.
Conservative treatment for periodontal disease includes several options:
- Deep cleaning to remove plaque and calculus from your teeth
- Prescription mouth rinse to chemically treat the bacterial infection
- Over-the- counter fluoride treatment to help prevent tooth decay
- Certain toothpastes may assist in disrupting bacteria in the mouthMore aggressive therapy includes surgical options, such as:
- Pocket reduction to reduce the depth of gum pockets
- Bone grafting or bone regeneration to help restore lost bone tissue
- Gum grafting to make thinning gums more resistant to infection or to cover exposed teeth roots
Once periodontal disease treatment has successfully completed, we will shift your treatment to a maintenance care stage to ensure the disease does not recur or progress further.
Periodontal disease is very treatable, but cannot be fully cured. After the completion of your periodontitis treatment, you will be scheduled for regular ongoing maintenance care. These visits will involve a thorough professional cleaning and monitoring of your oral health to ensure the disease does not recur and progress further.
We recommend scheduling your periodontal maintenance visits and your general dentistry visits on an alternating schedule. This ensures you are receiving the proper care and treatments for your oral health needs in a timely, consistent manner.