Periodontal disease can be fixed when detected and treated early. Goals of treatment are to control the infection and restore healthy gums
Periodontal disease can be fixed when detected and treated early. Treatment depends on the severity of the condition, ranging from deep cleaning to surgery.
What causes periodontal disease?
Periodontitis refers to gum disease, which is an infection that damages the tissue and bone around the tooth.
Poor brushing and flossing habits allow a sticky film of bacteria called plaque to build up on the teeth, resulting in the disease. If left untreated, the plaque biofilm can spread below the gumline and cause inflammation and destroy bone and tissues.
Factors that can lead to periodontal disease include:
- Poor oral hygiene, such as not brushing and flossing properly
- Family history of dental disease
- Hormonal changes that occur during puberty, menstrual periods, pregnancy, and menopause
- Medication conditions such as diabetes, HIV, and cancer
- Tobacco use
What are symptoms of periodontal disease?
Gum disease may progress without causing noticeable symptoms. Warning signs may include:
- Red, swollen, tender gums
- Bleeding gums while brushing
- Bad breath that does not go away
- Loose teeth or pain when chewing
- Deep pockets between the teeth and gums that cause food particles to get stuck
- Change of bite (how the upper and lower come together)
In the early stages, infection is found only in the gums. In later stages, the gums may begin to pull away from the teeth, forming pockets between the teeth and the gum tissue. As the infection spreads deeper, more gum tissue and bone are destroyed, which can lead to bleeding gums and even tooth loss.
How is periodontal disease diagnosed?
During a dental exam, your dentist may:
- Ask about your symptoms and medical history
- Examine your gums for signs of inflammation
- Use a special ruler to check the depth of pockets around you teeth
- Take an X-ray to assess whether bone loss occurred
- Refer you to a periodontist, a specialist in gum disease
How is periodontal disease treated?
Deep cleaning is a method used to remove plaque with the help of scaling and root planing, which are done using a laser:
- Scaling is a deep cleaning technique that scrapes off plaque and tartar from teeth both above and below the gumline.
- Root planing gets rid of plaque and tartar from the root surface, smoothing rough spots that trap and hold bacteria that cause periodontitis.
- Flap surgery: Involves making incisions and lifting back the gums to remove tartar deposits in the pockets around the teeth. The gums then get sutured closely around the teeth.
- Bone and tissue grafting: Involves grafting natural or synthetic bone to any areas of the lost bone in order to promote growth.
- Extraction: Involves extracting the tooth if bone loss is so severe that the tooth cannot be saved.