Periodontal disease is a serious dental condition that often gets overlooked and is not treated properly. It is estimated that 60% of adults have some form of periodontal disease. It is caused by certain types of bacteria forming under and around plaque and tarter build-up. These bacteria create toxins that can damage the gums and basically start eating away at the bone around your teeth, creating bone loss. Getting professional cleanings regularly can help prevent periodontal disease, but once the disease and gotten into your gums and bone, deeper, more intense cleanings are necessary to remove the bacteria (see Treatment Options, below).
Warning signs of gum disease are:
- Gums that bleed during toothbrushing
- Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
- Persistent bad breath or bad taste
- Permanent teeth that are loose or separating
- Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- Any change in the fit of partial dentures
Notice how the buildup and bacteria are gathering underneath the gum level, and the gum tissue is starting to get irritated and inflamed.
Here we see the tissue start to pull away from the tooth, and also the beginning stages of bone loss.
More bone loss, the teeth will start getting lose at this point.
Severe bone loss.
There are different levels of gum disease:
- Is a mild inflammation of the gums.
- Plaque and tarter build up at the gumline.
- Gums get red and puffy and may bleed during brushing and flossing.
- Gingivitis can be reversed by regular flossing and routine professional cleanings.
- Periodontitis is a more serious and destructive form of gum disease.
- Plaque spreads to the roots and infection occurs, damaging the supporting bone and fibers.
- Gums may separate from the tooth and start to recede. A pocket forms below the gum line and traps plaque and food particles.
- In the later stages of periodontitis, infection further destroys the supporting bone and fibers.
- The gum recedes even more.
- The tooth may shift or loosen, and the bite may change.
- If treatment can’t save the tooth, a dentist may decide to remove it to prevent further damage. At this point there may be treatment options available to replace tooth, such as a dental implant or bridge.
How can I prevent gum disease?
- Brush your teeth with toothpaste twice a day. This removes the film of bacteria from the teeth. Be sure to use a soft-bristled toothbrush that is in good condition and/or and electric toothbrush.
- Clean between your teeth every day. Cleaning between your teeth with floss removes bacteria and food particles from between the teeth, where a toothbrush can’t reach. Early gum disease can often be reversed by daily brushing and flossing.
- Eat a balanced diet. Choose a variety of foods from the basic food groups, such as bread, cereals, and other grain products, fruits and vegetables, meat, poultry and fish, and dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt. Limit snacks between meals.
- Visit your dentist regularly. It is important to have regular dental checkups and professional cleanings, which are essential to preventing periodontal diseases.
Brushing, flossing, and professional cleanings help remove the plaque that eventually causes gum disease.
Scaling and Root Planing (“deep cleanings”)
Plaque and tartar are scraped off the tooth’s crown and roots, underneath the gums. Patients are usually numbed for scaling and root planing, since we are cleaning deep under the gums.
There are a few different surgeries that can be done. If the disease has progressed to the point that scaling and root planing do not improve the situation, we will referred you to a periodontist, a doctor that specializes in periodontal disease, to discuss surgical options for treatment.