Periodontal disease or periodontitis is a condition that occurs when bacteria found in plaque build up around teeth and gums, causing inflammation. Without treatment, this inflammation can cause the gums and supporting bone structure to deteriorate, leading to pocketing, receding gums, bone loss, and eventually tooth loss.
There are a few factors that can increase the risk of developing periodontitis. Risk factors include genetics, poor oral hygiene, smoking, certain medications, certain illnesses such as diabetes, and conditions that cause decreased immunity.
Periodontal disease is a progressive disease that presents in the following stages.
In the first stage of periodontitis, called gingivitis, you may notice red, swollen gums and bad breath. Gums might also bleed when you brush or floss. Gingivitis, which is reversible, can be treated by improving at-home dental care and visiting your dentist regularly for treatment.
Slight Periodontal Disease
The second stage of the disease, known as slight periodontal disease, is not reversible. However, it can be managed. Slight periodontal disease involves more bleeding, redness, and swelling, but still no pain. The infection, however, spreads below the gum line and starts destroying the tooth-supporting bone.
Moderate Periodontal Disease
During the moderate stage of periodontal disease, bacteria have more probing depth and further
attack the jawbone leading to increased bone loss and the infection spreads to the bloodstream.
Advanced Periodontal Disease
Advanced periodontal disease is the most severe stage of gum disease. At this stage, teeth lose their structural support. When this occurs, you find that your teeth become loose, and abscesses may form. Your gums will become more inflamed as well, and you might find it difficult to eat, as chewing will become painful. You may also experience severe halitosis, and your risk of tooth loss will increase.
Treatment of Periodontal Disease
Prevention is always better than cure. To prevent gum disease, practicing good oral hygiene and visiting your dentist for regular cleanings and checkups are of great importance. When prevention is no longer an option, you should seek immediate treatment. The treatment you require will depend on the severity of the problem.
Here are some of the periodontal treatments:
Dental Hygiene Visits
A typical dental hygiene visit involves removing plaque and tartar from between teeth and below the gum line. It is recommended that a dental hygiene visit is done at least twice per year. When doing a dental cleaning, if signs of gum disease are discovered, recommendations are usually made for more frequent visits. Dental hygiene visits can be effective in preventing periodontitis and treating the disease in its early stages.
Scaling and Root Planing
Scaling and root planing is a non-surgical deep cleaning procedure, where dental plaque and calculus are removed, then the exposed surfaces of the roots are smoothed or planed. The procedure removes bacteria and provides a clean surface for the gums to reattach to the teeth. Scaling and root planing can treat slight disease.
Regenerative Periodontal Procedures
For advanced stages of periodontal disease, more advanced periodontal procedures may be required to remove calculus in deep pockets. Bone grafting to replace the deteriorated bone may also be needed. A bone graft uses pieces of donated bone, synthetic bone, or your bone to replace deteriorated bone. Where there are receding gums or thin gums in need of reinforcement, soft tissue grafts can also be used.
Laser-Assisted Periodontal Procedures
Your periodontist may use laser-assisted periodontal treatment procedures to treat later stages of periodontal disease. Laser procedures are less invasive than other procedures and reduce sensitivity after the procedure. This treatment also has minimal downtime compared to traditional procedures, however not every case will be a good candidate for such treatment.