Periodontal diseases are chronic bacterial infections that affect the supporting and surrounding soft tissues of the tooth. They are caused mainly by the accumulation of plaque on all surfaces of the teeth and result in inflammatory conditions causing pain and discomfort.
Periodontal disease normally begins with gingivitis, which is a bacterial infection of the gum tissue. Over time, bacteria will progressively destroy the connective tissue and the structure of the tooth. If left untreated, it can lead to shifting teeth, loose teeth, and eventually tooth loss.
Bacterial infections can spread to below the gum line causing mild gum inflammation, also known as gingivitis. Bacteria and plaque release toxins that cause further irritation to the gums, initiating a chronic inflammatory response in the body. This response causes the body to break down and destroy its own bone structure and soft tissues such as the gums. One of the symptoms is the separation of teeth from the infected gum tissue. You will also notice a deepening of pockets between the gums and teeth. This is indicative of the destruction of bone and soft tissue by periodontal disease.
Prevention and Maintenance
The best method of prevention of the disease is to have regular dental exams and professional cleaning done. This will help to detect and treat it before it becomes a more serious concern.
There are many surgical and nonsurgical options to choose from. The treatment used is dependent on the condition of the teeth and this will be determined through a complete periodontal exam performed by a periodontist.
Some common treatments for periodontal disease include:
- Scaling and Root Planing: This is a deep cleaning procedure for patients with gum disease. The cleaning procedure involves the removal of plaque and tartar buildup below the gum line. Root planing is used to clean the root surface of the tooth to help reduce inflammation of the gum tissue.
- Tissue Regeneration: Gum disease can lead to the destruction of bone and gum tissues. Grafting procedures can now be used to encourage regrowth of lost tissues. Generally, a live membrane may be inserted into the affected areas to help initiate the regeneration process.
- Pocket Elminination Surgery: A surgical procedure performed to reduce the pocket size between the teeth and gums.
- Dental Implants: Prosthetic teeth are implanted into the affected areas to help restore the aesthetics and functionality of the teeth.