We’ve all seen people or photos people with really bad teeth and gums. It’s probably unsurprising to you that there is some form of disease related to this area around your teeth. What may be surprising is that you probably have this disease in some form! Periodontal disease or gum disease is any infection of the area around your teeth, whether gum, bone or periodontal ligament.
Certain bacteria that reside in our mouths can cause inflammation in the gums around the teeth. This weakens, and eventually destroys, the fibers connecting teeth and bone. The remaining space is called a periodontal pocket. Some amount of pocketing is normal, most people have spaces of 1 – 3 mm in depth. These are manageable and can be cleaned with regular flossing and brushing.
With periodontal disease, these pockets grow deeper than 3 mm and healthy maintenance becomes impossible. Eventually, debris and bacteria accumulate at the bottom of the pocket, leading to recurring gum infections. This is how periodontitis forms.
As we age, our mouths become more vulnerable to periodontal bacteria. A lapse of good oral hygiene and cleaning is all it takes for periodontal disease to begin. The longer this goes untreated, the more likely the tooth is to become loose and eventually fall out.
This is not an inevitable conclusion though. There are many stages before this occurs that can be treated.
Gingivitis - Minor gingivitis is so common that it’s estimated over half the adult population has it to some extent. It is the earliest stage of gum disease and easily treatable if caught early. Gingivitis is recognizable because the affected gums become swollen, tender and bleed easily.
Gingivitis, in some cases, can lead to periodontitis (gum disease) and host of other health problems. If you notice these symptoms, come to Perfect Choice Dental immediately! Dr. Overmyer and our team can clean the affected area and prevent the periodontal disease from progressing.
Moderate Periodontitis - If the gum disease has progressed past gingivitis, the gums will begin to deteriorate. The teeth and gums will slowly detach and form larger periodontal pockets. Plaque build-up will fill this space and expose the tooth roots to decay.
Advanced Periodontitis - In this stage, the gum tissue and bone diminish considerably. Teeth are loosened and often need extraction. Everyday tasks like chewing and biting become difficult and painful.
If the disease has advanced this far, only deep dental cleaning and surgery can help. Most patients do not progress to this level if they have decent oral hygiene, and it is easily circumvented. However, if advanced periodontitis is left untreated, patients run the risk of other serious health problems.
While gum disease alone can cause gum recession, tooth pain, bleeding, swelling, bad breath, and tooth loss, it also leaves the rest of the body at risk. Your oral health is the beginning point for your whole body's health and wellness. When periodontal bacteria enter the bloodstream, it increases the chances of these health problems:
Periodontal treatment typically involves containing the infection through deep cleaning like scaling and root planing, clearing buildup at the root of the teeth. Dr. Overmyer may also suggest specific toothpastes and mouth rinses. Antibiotics are often prescribed in tandem to fight infections. Surgery is required for the most severe cases.
Scaling: Scaling is the process of removing plaque and tartar from all tooth surfaces. Dental hygienists traditionally performed scaling by hand. However, new and advanced technology has lead to more modern methods such as electric scalers. This sophisticated tool allows dental cleanings to be performed more efficiently and in less time. It also is less likely to remove any enamel or damage teeth.
Depending on the amount of plaque and tartar, a variety of methods are used to clean each tooth. To achieve optimum results, both electric and manual scaling methods are often combined for a full dental cleaning.
Root Planing: With periodontitis, it’s the gum pockets that are the most vulnerable. To treat and prevent gum problems we clean the area between your teeth and in the hidden pockets. Due to the sensitivity of these pockets and the surrounding area we generally use anesthesia or sedation for our patients.
Root planing is used to treat moderate to advanced gum diseases. When the gum is inflamed, gum pockets become deeper and may lose connections to the bone inside. The deeper the pockets, the easier it is for plaque deposits to become trapped and worsen gum problems.
Root planing involves inserting a pointed dental tool called scalers into the gum pockets to clean plaque buildup. Depending on the degree of complexity, root planning may take several appointments.
At Perfect Choice Dental, we examine your gum health during every 6-month check-up and dental exam. Any symptoms like bad breath, bleeding or tender gums should be brought to our attention during these appointments. If they are recurring, and you do not have an appointment scheduled, book one immediately. We will help you treat your periodontal disease and offer the best treatment possible for your situation.