Your periodontal (gum) tissues are just as important as your teeth. Unfortunately, many people do not treat their gums with the same respect. At Appletree Cove Dental, we offer preventive and restorative care for periodontal issues. Above all else, we believe patient education is the best way to maintain healthy gums. The following information is designed to help you better understand periodontal care.
What Is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is the result of an infection caused by the bacteria found in plaque and tartar (calcified plaque). In response to the bacteria, our immune system produces toxins that unfortunately target healthy tissue as well. Eventually, these toxins produce the infection we call periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease is broken up into two main stages: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is the first and most common form of the disease, causing gums to become inflamed and bleed easily during brushing. The gums change to a bright red color as well. Although the gums may be irritated, there is no irreversible tissue or bone damage at this stage.
Without treatment, gingivitis will progress into periodontitis. Periodontitis is far more serious than gingivitis. At this stage, the infection spreads to the connective ligaments and alveolar (supportive) bone. The inner layer of the gum tissue also pulls away from the teeth to form deep periodontal pockets. These pockets trap food debris and bacteria, which further contributes to the disease.
As the disease progresses, the gum tissues, connective ligaments, and alveolar bone begin to deteriorate. Eventually, the teeth are no longer securely attached to their sockets. When this happens, tooth loss will occur. Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in the United States.
Preventing Periodontal Disease
Preventing periodontal disease is very simple and straightforward. The best thing you can do is implement a strong oral hygiene routine. Be sure to brush your teeth twice a day with an ADA approved toothpaste. You should also floss your teeth once a day with the proper technique.
The next step you can take is to schedule regular checkups and professional cleanings. A routine appointment every six months is the general rule of thumb for most patients. During your appointment, Dr. Mellissa Ilgen will perform a comprehensive exam to check for signs of periodontal disease. This allows us to catch any problems before irreversible damage occurs.
Treating Periodontal Disease
If we diagnose you with periodontal disease, treatment depends on whether you have gingivitis or periodontitis. Gingivitis can usually be treated with improvements to your oral hygiene. We will be able to point out certain areas that need special attention. Periodontitis is a little more difficult to treat. If we diagnose you with periodontitis, we may suggest a sort of "deep cleaning," known as a scaling and root planing. During a scaling and root planing, we will remove any instances of plaque and tartar buildup. Next, we smooth out any rough areas on the surface of the roots. This ensures that bacteria and plaque will not re-adhere to the root below the gumline. Your gums should also return to a pink, healthy state, and fit snugly around your teeth.