Treat periodontal disease early to avoid surgery. A typical dentist visit includes a full periodontal exam to detect early stages of gingivitis.
Periodontal disease attacks the gums and the bone that supports the teeth. Plaque is a sticky film of food debris, bacteria, and saliva. If plaque is not removed, it turns into calculus and begins to destroy the gums and bone.
Four out of five people have periodontal disease and don’t know it! Most people are not aware of it because the disease is usually painless in the early stages.
Not only is it the number one reason for tooth loss, research suggests that there may be a link between periodontal disease and other diseases such as stroke, bacterial pneumonia, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and increased risk during pregnancy. Researchers have determined inflammation and bacteria associated with periodontal disease affect these systemic diseases and conditions. Smoking also increases the risk of periodontal disease.
Good oral hygiene, a balanced diet, and regular dental visits can help reduce your risk of developing periodontal disease.
Signs of periodontal disease:
- Bleeding Gums - Gums should never bleed, even when you brush or use floss.
- Loose Teeth - Caused by bone loss or weakened periodontal fibers.
- New Spacing Between Teeth - Caused by bone loss.
- Persistent Bad Breath - Caused by bacteria in the mouth.
- Pus Around the Teeth and Gums - Sign that there is an infection present.
- Receding Gums - Loss of gum around a tooth.
- Red and Puffy Gums - Gums should never be red or swollen.
- Tenderness or Discomfort - Plaque, calculus, and bacteria irritate the gums and teeth.
Periodontal Disease Diagnosis
A typical dental visit includes a full periodontal exam. Using a small periodontal probe, we measure the pocket between the tooth and the gum. The probe indicates if pockets are deep or sensitive. As periodontal disease progresses, the pockets usually get deeper. Using pocket depths, amount of bleeding, inflammation, and tooth mobility, your diagnosis will fall into one of the following categories:
Gingivitis (first stage of periodontal disease) Plaque and its toxin by-products irritate the gums, making them tender, inflamed, and likely to bleed.
Plaque hardens into calculus. As the build up continues, the gums begin to recede from the teeth. Deeper pockets form between the gums and teeth and fill with bacteria and pus. The gums become very irritated, inflamed, and bleed easily. Slight to moderate bone loss may be present.
The teeth lose more support as the gums, bone, and periodontal ligaments continue to be destroyed. Unless treated, the affected teeth will become very loose and may be lost. Generalized moderate to severe bone loss may be present.
Periodontal Disease Treatment
Periodontal treatment methods depend upon the type and severity of the disease. We evaluate for periodontal disease and recommend the appropriate treatment.
If the disease is caught in the early stages of gingivitis and no damage has been done, one to two regular cleanings will be recommended. You will also be given instructions on improving your daily oral hygiene habits and having regular dental cleanings.
If the disease has progressed to more advanced stages, a special periodontal deep cleaning, scaling, and root planing will be recommended. It is usually done one quadrant of the mouth at a time while the area is numb. In this procedure, calculus, plaque, and toxins are removed from above and below the gum line (scaling) and rough spots on root surfaces are made smooth (planing). This procedure helps gum tissue to heal and pockets to shrink. Medications, special medicated mouth rinses, and an electric tooth brush may be recommended to help control infection and healing.
If the pockets do not heal after scaling and root planning, periodontal surgery may be needed to reduce pocket depths, making teeth easier to clean. At this stage, we may recommend you see a specialist of the gums and supporting bone called a periodontist.
Periodontal Disease Maintenance
Within 24 hours, plaque that is not removed from your teeth can start to calcify and turn into calculus! Daily home cleaning helps control plaque and calculus formation, but those hard to reach areas will always need special attention.
Once your periodontal treatment has been completed, we recommend you have regular periodontal cleanings (usually four times a year). At these cleaning appointments, the pocket depths are carefully checked to ensure they are healthy. Plaque and calculus that is difficult for you to remove on a daily basis will be removed from above and below the gum line. In addition to your periodontal cleaning and evaluation, your appointment will usually include:
- Examination of Diagnostic - X-Rays Detection of decay, tumors, cysts, and bone loss. X-rays also help determine tooth and root positions.
- Examination of Current Fillings, Crowns, etc.
- Examination of All Tooth Surfaces for Decay
- Oral Cancer Screening - Check the face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, cheek tissues, and gums for any signs of oral cancer.
- Oral Hygiene Recommendations - Review and recommend oral hygiene aids as needed, such as electric toothbrushes, special periodontal brushes, fluorides, rinses, etc.
- Teeth Polishing - Removal of stain and plaque that is not otherwise removed during tooth brushing and scaling.
Good oral hygiene practices and periodontal cleanings are essential in maintaining dental health and keeping periodontal disease under control!