Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is not only a very common oral health problem; it’s one of the most common diseases in America. It’s been estimated that as much as 80% of the population struggles with some form of gum disease, whether a mild form (known as gingivitis) or a more advanced form (known as periodontitis).
But regardless of how light or severe your struggle may be, seeking help is important. It is always best to catch and treat periodontal disease early on before any of your teeth start to become loose. If caught early, near the time of its initial onset, periodontal disease can be somewhat reversible. Periodontal disease, however, remains the most common cause of tooth loss.
The symptoms of gum disease include:
- Gums that bleed when you brush
- Red, swollen, or sensitive gums
- Receding gums
- Loose teeth
- Pockets between teeth and gums
- Persistent bad breath
What Causes Gum Disease?
Gum disease is caused by a combination of bacteria and plaque. Over time, as this combination builds up around your teeth and gums and hardens into tartar, the gum’s soft tissues become irritated and an infection can develop. There is also a very strong correlation between smoking and periodontal disease. If left untreated you can lose the bony support that anchors your teeth in place as well as your gum tissue surrounding your teeth. This process also results in gum recession which can cause root decay, tooth sensitivity, as well as negatively impact your smile. Gum disease is the number one cause of tooth loss in adults due to the effect that bacteria and plaque can have on your gums and bone. That’s why it’s important to seek help for gum disease as early as possible. If left untreated, gum disease can have a dramatic impact on your oral health, and may even lead to an increased risk of other kinds of health problems, like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, pregnancy complications, and more. Please refer to the following link to see an animation of periodontal disease progression.
Common Forms of Periodontal Therapy
The most common form of periodontal therapy is a non-surgical procedure called scaling and root planning or “deep cleaning”. Sometimes antibiotics are used as an adjunctive treatment. During this procedure one of our dental hygienists will thoroughly clean and remove all debris from the teeth and root structure beneath the gums. This debris is teeming with bacteria and is the source of the periodontal disease so it must be removed. This procedure usually requires the patient to be numb to assure procedure efficiency and patient comfort. In more advanced cases of periodontal disease the patient must be referred to the Periodontist who is a specialist specializing in gum and bone health.