Periodontal and/or gum diseases are ongoing infections of the surrounding tissue that gradually destroy the support of your natural teeth. Periodontal disease affects one or more of the periodontal tissues: alveolar bone, periodontal ligament, cementum, or gingiva. While there are many diseases that affect the tooth-supporting structures, plaque-induced inflammatory lesions make up the majority of periodontal issues and are divided into two categories: gingivitis and periodontitis. While gingivitis, the less serious of the diseases, may never progress into periodontitis, it always precedes periodontitis.
Dental plaque is the primary cause of gingivitis in most individuals. Plaque is a sticky colorless film, composed primarily of food particles and various types of bacteria, that adheres to your teeth at and below the gum line. Plaque constantly forms on your teeth, even minutes after cleaning. Bacteria found in plaque produces toxins, or poisons, that irritate the gums. Gums may become inflamed, red, swollen, and bleed easily. If this irritation is prolonged, the gums will separate from the teeth causing pockets (spaces) to form. If daily brushing and flossing is neglected, plaque can harden into a rough, porous substance known as calculus (or tartar). This can occur both above and below the gum line.
Periodontitis is affected by bacteria that adheres to the tooth’s surface, along with an overly aggressive immune response to these bacteria. If gingivitis progresses into periodontitis, the supporting gum tissue and bone that hold teeth in place deteriorates. The progressive loss of this bone, the alveolar, can lead to the loosening and subsequent loss of teeth.
Warning Signs of Gum Disease:
– gums that bleed easily
– red, swollen or tender gums
– gums that have pulled away from the teeth
– persistent bad breath or bad taste
– permanent teeth that are loose or separating
– any changes in how your teeth fit together when biting or change in fit of partial dentures
In certain more severe cases of periodontal disease, the presence of plaque and calculus is too great to allow for an accurate examination. In these instances, a debridement of the tooth surfaces is required for your doctor to successfully perform a comprehensive oral evaluation. This procedure involves the removal or disruption of dental deposits and plaque-retaining dental calculus, without removal of the cementum (surface layer of the tooth’s root) that is typically seen in scaling and planing procedures. The goal of this service is to preserve cementum and re-establish a healthy periodontal environment as well as allow for accurate evaluation.
There are a variety of treatments and procedures that can be performed in order to manage, treat and prevent future periodontal disease. Click on the links below for more information on treating gum disease: