Periodontal disease is inflammation of the gums and bone caused by a serious bacterial infection. Gums and bones are responsible for holding your teeth in place. Therefore, poor flossing or brushing habits can cause periodontal disease to worsen if it goes untreated. There are several factors that cause periodontal disease, symptoms to watch out for, diagnosis techniques and treatment options to slow the progression of the disease.
Dental plaque and bacteria that release toxins caused by poor oral hygiene lead to gum disease. When plaque spreads below the gumline it causes irritation to the gums and the body works to break down the toxins. This results in the destruction of the tissue and bone that keep your teeth intact. Once this process begins, gums start to recede causing pockets where bacteria harvest further into the gum line and progresses the disease to inevitable destruction.
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, symptoms of periodontal disease include:
- Bad breath that won’t go away
- Red or swollen gums
- Tender or bleeding gums
- Painful chewing
- Loose teeth
- Sensitive Teeth
- Receding gums or longer appearing teeth
A periodontal probe (small dental instrument) is gently used to measure the sulcus (pocket or space) between the tooth and the gums. The depth of a healthy sulcus measures three millimeters or less and does not bleed. The periodontal probe helps indicate if pockets are deeper than three millimeters. As periodontal disease progresses, the pockets usually get deeper. Once the measurements are attained, the level of periodontal disease is placed into one of the following categories:
- Gingivitis– inflammation of the gums.
- Periodontitis– a serious infection of the gums.
- Advanced Periodontitis– deterioration of tissue and bone.
Colgate identifies treatments of periodontal disease depending on the level of severity. This includes:
- Scaling and root planing– Scaling is a deep cleaning technique that removes plaque and tarter from the surface of your teeth and below the gumline. Root planing is the removal of plaque and tartar from the root surfaces where bacteria has become trapped. Once removed, the gums can begin the healing process back to health.
- Periodontal gum surgery– A pocket reduction procedure where the periodontist makes incisions in your gums to flap back the tissue, providing more access to the roots for a more effective scaling and root planing procedure. This gives gum tissue the opportunity to reattach to the bone.
- Gum graft surgery– In more severe cases, surgery to reshape the gums or graft new tissue is required to protect the root of the tooth and prevent further decay of tissue and bone.
- Regenerative procedures– Bone grafting can be used to reverse some of the damage and encourage the body to regenerate bone and tissue. If this procedure is successful, you may be a candidate for dental implants.
- Extraction– Severe periodontal disease that has caused bone loss beyond repair requires the tooth to be removed.
Practicing good oral hygiene is the number one way to prevent periodontal disease. Brushing your teeth daily and flossing will keep away plaque and bacteria. Visiting your dentist every six months to remove plaque and tarter with a professional cleaning helps clean places that are hard to reach. The American Academy of Periodontology identifies other gum disease risk factors:
- Smoking/Tobacco Use
- Clenching or grinding your teeth
- Other systemic diseases
- Poor nutrition and obesity
Maintaining good oral health starts with a visit your dentist. Dental insurance can help supplement the costs associated with oral care. Please contact or Agent or Member Services at 214-389-9072 to receive information on our dental plans.