Periodontal disease is considered a “silent” disease because there is usually no pain associated with this bacterial infection of the gums and tissues. The best way to avoid periodontal disease is to practice good oral hygiene and visit your Dentist regularly.
Individuals that have poor oral hygiene, smoke/chew tobacco, take steroids, have a family history of periodontal disease, are pregnant, have heart disease/diabetes/osteoporosis, or take certain drugs are at a higher risk for developing periodontal disease.
Stages of Periodontal Disease
The two major stages of periodontal disease are gingivitis and periodontitis.
Gingivitis means inflammation of the gum tissue. This is the mild form of periodontal disease as it only affects the gums. If gingivitis is caught early on and properly treated, it can be reversed. However, if left untreated it can turn into Periodontitis.
This is a more advanced form of periodontal disease. At this point, bacteria have penetrated deeper into your tissues where the bone and membranes support your teeth. If left untreated, it can lead to serious health problems and tooth loss. Once periodontitis has developed, it is irreversible. There are three stages of irreversible periodontitis; early, moderate, and advanced. These stages require a deeper cleaning by your Dentist, Hygienist, or a Periodontist.
A Dentist with an additional three years of education and specialized training in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of gum disease is a qualified Periodontist. If you are suffering from periodontal disease your Dentist may refer you to a Periodontist for treatment.
The treatment process varies depending on the stage of deterioration of the individual’s gums, teeth, supporting tissues, and bone. There are two treatment options for periodontal disease: non-surgical and surgical. After x-rays and a thorough periodontal exam, your Dentist or Periodontist will discuss your options.
Scaling and root planing is the most common non-surgical treatment for periodontal disease. This procedure removes the plaque, tarter, and harmful bacteria from the roots of your teeth. Good oral hygiene after the procedure helps to prevent the plaque and tarter from returning.
If your periodontal disease is more severe and has produced a bone infection or significant bone loss, a surgical treatment is necessary to eliminate the infection and regenerate bone. Pocket reduction and bone regeneration are the two most common surgical treatment options.
- Pocket Reduction: local anesthetic allows the gum tissue to be pulled back to expose the deeper tissues where the bacteria can be removed. If damaged bone is present, it will be smoothed. Then the gum tissue is stitched back into place.
- Bone Regeneration: local anesthetic is applied so the gum tissue can be pulled back to expose the deeper tissues where harmful bacteria can be removed. To help your body naturally regenerate any necessary bone or tissue that was damaged, membranes, bone grafts, or tissue-simulating proteins are used. Finally, excess gum and bone tissues are reshaped and the gum tissue is stitched back into place.