Periodontics

Periodontal diseases range from simple gum inflammation (gingivitis) to serious disease that result in major damage to the soft tissue and bone that support the teeth (periodontitis). In the worst cases scenarios teeth are lost. Whether your gum disease is stopped, slowed, or gets worse depends a great deal on your daily dental hygiene.

Gingivitis

The longer bacteria are in contact of gums and teeth, the more harmful they become. The bacteria (in the form of plaque and tartar) cause an inflammation of the gums called "gingivitis." With gingivitis, the gums become red, swollen, and can bleed easily. Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease that can usually be reversed with daily brushing, flossing, and regular cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist. This form of gum disease does not include any loss of bone and tissue around the teeth.

Periodontitis

When gingivitis is not treated, it can advance to "periodontitis" (inflammation around the tooth). In periodontitis, gums pull away from the teeth and form spaces (called "pockets") that become infected. The body's immune system fights the bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line. Bacterial toxins and the body's natural response to infection start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place. If not treated, the bones, gums, and tissue that support the teeth are destroyed. The teeth may eventually become loose and have to be removed.

Treatments

The main goal of treatment is to control the infection. The number and types of treatment will vary, depending on the extent of the gum disease. Any type of treatment requires that the patient keep up good daily care at home. The doctor may also suggest changing certain behaviors, such as quitting smoking, as a way to improve treatment outcome.

Deep Cleaning (Scaling and Root Planing) and surgical procedures

The dentist, periodontist, or dental hygienist removes bacteria through a deep-cleaning method called scaling and root planing. Scaling means scraping off the tartar from above and below the gum line. Root planing gets rid of rough spots on the tooth root where the germs gather, and helps remove plaque and tartar. In many cases more invasive surgery procedures might be used in conjunction with antibiotics and antimicrobial treatments.

When treatment occurs too late dental extractions might be the last solution to avoid further bone loss.

Gum disease

When there is a build-up of plaque, gum and bone may begin to recede. Sometimes the gum recedes with the bone and sometimes it doesn't. Either way, the tooth may become mobile.

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