Periodontal disease is more commonly known as “gum disease.” Gum disease is an infection that is caused by plaque or “tartar” accumulation on the teeth and gums, which may result in redness, inflammation, bleeding, tenderness, mobility, and/or tooth loss.
Most patients are not aware that they have gum disease because it is often painless. Your dentist will determine if you have gum disease, the severity of the disease, and the appropriate therapy to stop it from progressing by evaluating radiographs and measuring the pockets around your teeth.
It is important to understand how patients can get gum disease:
Plaque is a thin film of biomaterial that is composed of bacteria and bacterial waste. As this bacteria-filled plaque or “tartar” accumulates on teeth, it gets thicker and becomes mineralized which makes the plaque hard. This hardened plaque is also known as “calculus.” The calculus then begins to push downward into the space between the gum and the tooth called the “sulcus” of the tooth. Subsequently, a pocket is formed between the tooth and the gum that grows with time. Inside this pocket, the bacteria cause inflammation, redness, bleeding, and tenderness of the gums. Over time, the bone begins to be destroyed and the teeth become mobile or “loose” due to lack of supporting bone (if left untreated).
If the plaque is at the hardened or mineralized state, it can only be removed by a professional cleaning by a dentist or hygienist.
There are two major forms of gum disease:
1. Gingivitis. This is an early stage of gum disease, in which the gums are red, inflamed, and may bleed easily. This stage can be arrested and the gums can be returned to a healthy state with routine check-ups, a professional cleaning, and proper home health care.
2. Periodontitis. This is a more advanced stage of gum disease in which the gums are red, inflamed, bleed easily, supporting bone and tissues are broken down, and teeth may become mobile. Your dentist will measure the pocket depths around your teeth to determine the severity of the gum disease to create the best treatment modality specific for you to prevent further damage to the teeth and surrounding tissues. In severe cases of periodontitis, the teeth may need to be extracted.
There are some conditions that increase the risk of gum disease, including certain medical conditions and medications, pregnancy, smoking or chewing tobacco, misaligned teeth, and/or defective restorations.
Research is showing more and more how gum disease coincides with general health problems such as heart disease. At Briter Dental, we will assess your dental health, treat your symptoms, control the disease and help you with the causes and prevention. Your dentist will review your needs and create a treatment plan to help you keep a beautiful, healthy smile!