Periodontics & Gum Health
About Gum Disease
Gum (periodontal) disease is an infection of the supporting tissues of the teeth, which includes the gums, gingiva, alveolar bone, cementum, and the periodontal ligament.
Poor oral hygiene habits, smoking and systemic diseases are all risk factors for gum disease because they increase the likelihood of plaque to build up on the teeth, which will eventually infect the gums.
Gum Disease & Your Overall Health
It is important to treat gum disease because it can affect a number of health issues, including heart health, diabetes, and the ability to lead a healthy lifestyle.
Stages of Gum Disease
Gum disease does not present obvious symptoms when it first starts to develop. Many patients only begin to notice symptoms when they have progressed past the early stages.
Untreated, gum disease typically progresses in the following stages:
Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease. Plaque and its toxin by-products irritate the gums, making them tender, inflamed, and likely to bleed.
Over time, plaque hardens into tartar. As tartar and plaque continue to build up without being removed, they cause the gums to begin to recede from the teeth. Eventually, pockets form between the gums and teeth, which become filled with bacteria and pus. The gums become irritated, inflamed, and bleed easily. Slight to moderate bone loss may occur.
- Advanced Periodontitis
The teeth lose more support as the gums, bone, and periodontal ligament continue to deteriorate. Unless treated, the affected teeth will become very loose and may even fall out. Moderate to severe bone loss in the jaw may occur.
Gum Disease Treatment
Treatment for periodontal disease depends on the type and severity of the disease. If it is caught in the early stages, preventative therapy will be recommended.
Otherwise, your treatment will fall into one of the following categories:
- Non-Surgical Gum Therapy
For patients with a mild form of gum disease, non-surgical gum therapy may be sufficient to reverse it. Non surgical gum therapy is essentially a deep cleaning performed by a dental hygienist. The hygienist will scrape away the plaque and tartar around and below the gum line, and smooth out any rough areas left behind through a process called scaling and root planing.
- Surgical Gum Therapy
For patients with more advanced forms of gum disease, more invasive surgical treatments may be necessary to reverse the effects. There are a few different types of surgical gum therapy, including flap surgery, guided tissue regeneration, tissue grafting, and bone grafting.
- Post-Treatment Maintenance
Once your periodontal treatment has been completed, our dental team will recommend that you have regular dental examinations and preventative therapy, usually four times a year.
Good oral hygiene practices and preventative therapy are essential in keeping periodontal disease under control.