What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is the term to describe inflammation and destruction of the structures that surround the tooth. Periodontal disease destruction is caused by bacteria found in dental plaque on the teeth and gums. Your body produces substances that destroy the supporting structures of the teeth, including gums and bone, trying to get rid of the infection. If the disease does not get treated in early stages the teeth become loose and can result in tooth loss.
What is the difference between gingivitis and periodontal disease?
- Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gums that can be reversible with your home care and regular visits to your hygienist.
- Periodontal disease is the inflammation and destruction of the gums and bone. Once you have periodontal disease you cannot get rid of it, you maintain it.
- Periodontal disease often but not always starts as gingivitis.
- Red, swollen or bleeding gums
- Receding gums
- Loose teeth
- Bad breath
- Unpleasant taste in the mouth
Periodontal disease is relatively painless. Most people do not feel pain until later stages of infection.
How we check for periodontal disease:
Our Registered Dental Hygienists do a comprehensive periodontal evaluation once a year along with evaluations at each visit so that we can check for early signs of infection.
We also take annual X-rays to check the teeth and surrounding bone health.
Treatment for periodontal disease
Treatment depends on how severe your periodontal disease is.
Most mild and moderate cases first start with a non-surgical procedure called scaling and root planing. Some people refer to this as a “deep cleaning.”
This procedure involves the following:
- The inflammation of the gums from the infection can cause sensitivity so localized anesthesia (numbing) in the infection area is used so the patient is comfortable.
- Scaling the plaque, calculus and bacteria above and below the gum line. A combination of a ultrasonic scaler and hand instruments are used to smooth the tooth.
- Irrigation under the gums with Iodine. This helps to kill any bacteria that may be left under the gums.
Severe periodontal disease
When infection has done significant damage to the bone and gums there are surgical procedures called gingival flap surgery. This procedure involves pulling back the gums from the tooth and bone in order to perform the scaling and root planing. With early detection of infection with probing measurements and x-rays this procedure can be avoided.
The patient will be asked to return for a 4-6 week evaluation. This will involve measuring the gums to check for improvements. At this evaluation your hygienist will also place you on either a 3-4 month continuing care to maintain the disease.
Your home care is crucial with this disease. Our office recommends the use of a waterpik and floss daily in order to maintain. When a patient does not follow through with home care and recommended hygiene visits the infection can return.
The following are links to more information about periodontal disease: