What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is a common affliction that can go unnoticed until it is in an advanced stage where bone and tissue damage and loss are occurring. In fact, research indicates that up to 80 percent of the population has gum disease that ranges from the early stage known as gingivitis to the most severe stage known as advanced periodontitis. The reason gum disease goes unnoticed is that it has few, if any, symptoms until it is doing damage to your teeth, gums and jawbone. This automatically give the answer to what is periodontal disease.
With regular dental checkups, periodontal disease can be diagnosed, even though there are no symptoms. When gum disease is detected, your dentist has several options of periodontal disease therapy treatments that can be used to arrest the disease and correct the problems that may have been caused. The treatment(s) that will be used will depend on the stage of the disease.
If you have gingivitis where your gums are inflamed and perhaps red, swollen and bleeding, the best approach and treatment is to improve your daily hygiene habits, and your dental professional will demonstrate the most effective means of brushing (at least twice a day) and flossing (at least once a day). If an infection has begun, improvement of your daily hygiene habits may be accompanied by a procedure called scaling and root planing that is performed in your dentist’s office. This process consists of careful scraping of all of the affected tooth surfaces, as well as irrigation of any pockets that have formed in your gums, and placement of a local antibiotic in any areas of significant irritation, if necessary. It is also recommended to have a second professional cleaning to get the gums back to health.
If your periodontal disease has progressed beyond the early stages, it may take surgery to stop the progressing damage and to restore your mouth to good oral health. Depending on the damage that has been done to your teeth, gums or bone, your dentist may perform one of four surgical treatments:
1. Pocket Depth Reduction – When the infection is deeper that can be reached by the scaling and root planing process, or when it has gone into your bone, this minor surgical procedure is used to thoroughly clean out infected areas.
2. Bone or Tissue Regeneration – If gum tissue or bone loss has developed, your dentist can sometimes reverse the damage that has occurred by using a surgical procedure where a regenerative process is used to enhance your body’s ability to restore the tissue and bone that has been lost.
3. Crown Lengthening – If the disease has caused your teeth to break down below your gum line, your dentist may use this surgical process where your gum and bone level are adjusted so that more tooth is exposed, allowing your dentist to apply a crown and repair the damaged tooth.
4. Soft Tissue Grafts – Periodontal disease can cause gum tissue to pull away from a tooth, exposing the sensitive tooth root which can cause pain and make the tooth more susceptible to decay. To remedy the problem and protect the affected tooth (or teeth), your dentist can perform a soft tissue graft where soft tissue (that is typically taken from the soft palate of your mouth) is placed over the area. Over time, it attaches to your teeth and existing gum tissue, protecting the vulnerable tooth root.
Learn more about gum disease by watching this short video: