What is a periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease or gum disease is an infection of the supporting tooth structure. This structure consists of the gums, the periodontal ligament and the bone around the tooth. The two main periodontal diseases are chronic gingivitis and periodontitis.
- Gingivitis is an inflammation that affects only the gums around the tooth. When brushing or flossing, bleeding gums may be noted. If treated, this condition is completely reversible. Uncontrolled gingivitis, however, will eventually develop into periodontitis.
- Chronic periodontitis is a much more serious condition that, in addition to affecting the gums, results in irreversible damage to the bone that supports the teeth. It is characterized by destruction of the support (bone and ligament) around the tooth, resulting in the detachment of the gums which in turn leads to the formation of “periodontal pockets”.
The most common sign noticed by patients is bleeding gums during brushing. The gums may also be red and swollen. Gingival recession, tooth migration and bad breath are all signs that suggest periodontal damage. As the disease gets worse, the teeth become mobile.
Untreated periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss.
Periodontal disease is an infection that is caused principally by a buildup of plaque and the bacteria that is associated with it. There are, however, numerous risk factors that cause it to worsen. The presence of hard calcified deposits (tartar) under the gums, smoking, certain genetic factors, misaligned teeth, defective restorations, bruxism (grinding teeth), diabetes and the use of certain drugs are just some examples.
How to Prevent Periodontal Disease?
The most effective way to prevent periodontal disease is good oral hygiene. It goes without saying that meticulous brushing and daily flossing eliminate most of the bacteria involved. Other risk factors should be identified and discussed with a dentist in order to find the best treatment plan to control the periodontal disease. It is therefore essential to see a dentist regularly in order to be screened for and treat the periodontal disease early.
When a periodontal problem is diagnosed, the dentist will conduct a detailed examination of your periodontium. This specific assessment makes it possible to make a diagnosis, identify the etiological factors, the risk factors and finally, to establish a treatment plan appropriate to your condition. If the condition is advanced, it is possible that the dentist will refer you to one of our periodontists, either Dr. Melanie Campese or Dr. Jeremy Werbitt. A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of periodontal (gum) diseases.
Treatment of Periodontal Diseases
Scaling / polishing and good oral hygiene techniques are usually sufficient to treat gingivitis. In the presence of periodontal pockets, in addition to the initial scaling, root planing will also be advised. The purpose of this treatment is to disinfect the pockets and to rid the roots of the tartar and bacterial toxins which cause inflammation to the gum tissue and surrounding bone. This treatment is usually performed under local anesthesia. On the days that follow the scaling and root planing, the patient may feel sensitivity during chewing and brushing, as well as to temperature changes. This phase of treatment generally helps stop the progression of the disease and reduces the inflammation of the gums
Habits that could aggravate the disease should also be altered and the risk factors monitored as much as possible. In some situations, antibiotics may be recommended.
After scaling and root planing, some teeth may still require periodontal surgery. The purpose of the surgery is to allow the dentist access to the deep periodontal pockets. Such an operation will give the gingiva and the surrounding bone a more natural contour allowing the depth of the periodontal pockets to be diminished, and thus facilitate oral hygiene maintenance for the patient.
How to keep your gums healthy?
Periodontal disease may reoccur if the etiological factors and risk factors are not controlled. The long-term prognosis of the treatment depends on it. For this reason, it is very important to adhere to a maintenance program including regular visits, at intervals recommended by your dentist. In addition, it is essential to maintain high standard of oral hygiene at home. Proper control of plaque and tartar will minimize the risk of recurrence of this disease.
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