Many people are familiar with the term gingivitis, which is a common form of gum disease that is usually caused by the buildup of plaque on the teeth and gums. This causes irritation, redness, swelling in the gum tissue around the base of the teeth, and may also cause the gums to bleed.
Gingivitis is actually the early stage of periodontal disease, a condition that needs to be taken seriously to ensure your continued oral health.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal Disease may begin with gingivitis, but it can progress to a more serious form called periodontitis. Once it reaches this stage, the irritated, infected gums can pull away from the tooth and there may be some bone loss. This can result in loose teeth that may eventually fall out.
In addition to potentially causing tooth loss, the bacteria responsible for periodontal disease may enter the bloodstream through your gum tissue, possibly affecting other parts of the body. As a result, other conditions may arise such as coronary artery disease, respiratory disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and issues controlling blood sugar levels for diabetics.
Periodontal disease is seen primarily in adults and, along with tooth decay, is one of the most serious threats to your dental health.
Risk Factors for Periodontal Disease
Several factors can increase your risk for periodontal disease. Aside from gingivitis, gum disease and poor oral care habits, some of the potential triggers include:
- Chewing tobacco
- Recreational drug use including smoking marijuana and vaping
- Hormonal changes, including those that come about due to pregnancy or menopause
- Medications that cause dry mouth
- Leukemia and other conditions that result in decreased immunity
- Certain diseases such as diabetes
- Poor nutrition
How to Treat Periodontal Disease
Treatment for periodontal disease may come from a dentist, dental hygienist, or periodontist and involves thoroughly cleaning the pockets around the teeth. Provided that the disease is not too advanced, some of the treatment options are not very invasive and include:
This is done to remove tartar and bacteria from the surface of the tooth. This can be done with instruments, a laser, or an ultrasonic device.
Planing is performed to smooth the surface of the roots, thus discouraging the buildup of tartar and bacteria.
Medication can be used to help control the infection. This may take the form of topicals (mouth rinses or gel placed directly into the periodontal pockets following a thorough cleaning), or oral antibiotics (pills).
In more advanced or severe cases, surgical intervention may be required. This may include the following:
Flap surgery (pocket reduction surgery)
This treatment involves making an incision in the gums, folding the tissue back, and exposing the root to allow for scaling and planing.
Soft tissue grafts
Tissue is taken from your palate or another source and attached to the affected area to help prevent further recession of the gums and to cover exposed roots.
- Bone grafting This is done when periodontitis has resulted in the loss of bone surrounding your tooth root. It may use small fragments of your own bone, synthetic material, or donated bone.
Prevention of Periodontal Disease
Although periodontal disease is very common, it is also largely preventable. Your best defense against periodontitis is to practice good oral hygiene habits at home visit and to your dentist regularly for cleanings.
For more information concerning periodontal disease, contact us today.