Periodontal treatments comprise a significant portion of the procedures we perform at Restorative and Implant Dentistry of Bayside. Dr. Sameet Sheth understands that the success of dental implants and other restorations relies heavily upon establishing a foundation of comprehensive dental health. For this reason, achieving healthy gums, teeth, and supportive bone tissue prior to rebuilding your smile is always the initial goal of your treatment plan. If you require periodontal treatment to repair damage caused by gum disease or tooth loss, our dentist will explain which procedures can help restore optimal tissue health and bone strength.
The following information can help you gain a greater understanding of periodontal disease and treatment options that can address this common concern. If you are interested in treatment, we encourage you to contact our office to schedule a consultation.
- What Is Periodontal Disease?
- Common Causes of Periodontal Disease
- Symptoms of Periodontal Disease
- Stages of Gum Disease
- Gum Disease Treatments
What Is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease, commonly referred to as gum disease, is an infection of the tissues that surround the teeth. The condition is very common; in fact, most people will develop some form of periodontal disease in their lifetimes. Untreated gum disease can lead to serious oral health conditions, and can even significantly increase life-threatening risks to an individual’s general health. Fortunately, there are treatments available that can reduce the symptoms of gum disease and prevent the condition from causing further harm.
What Are Common Causes of Periodontal Disease?
A bacterial invasion of soft gum tissues can lead to periodontal disease. This condition can develop even in those who have taken excellent care of their gums and teeth for their entire lives. Once bacteria has developed into plaque, it can progressively harden into calculus (tartar). While regular brushing and flossing can help get rid of plaque, some of it can still be left behind, where it hardens into calculus and becomes difficult to remove. Professional dental cleanings can eliminate calculus in hard-to-reach areas; however, in later stages of gum disease, the calculus may be so deep within the gums that a more extensive cleaning may be necessary.
There are a number of factors that can contribute to gum disease, including poor dental hygiene, infrequent visits to the dentist for routine care, bruxism (teeth clenching/grinding), use of tobacco products, certain kinds of medical treatment or medical conditions, hormonal changes, and nutritional deficiencies. Gum disease will not clear up on its own; therefore, treatment is vital to control the condition and reduce serious risks to one’s periodontal health and overall health.
What Are the Symptoms of Periodontal Disease?
Gum disease can produce a number of different symptoms, which will progressively get worse without treatment. Some of the more common symptoms of periodontal disease include:
- Bleeding gums
- Gums that appear red, swollen, or inflamed
- Receding gums
- The formation of deep pockets between the teeth and gums
- A discharge of fluid or pus along the gumline or between the teeth
- Loose teeth
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- A change in the bite
- Tooth loss
- A persistent bad taste in the mouth
- A difference in the way dentures fit in the mouth
Treatment for periodontal disease can significantly reduce symptoms and help manage the condition.
Stages of Gum Disease
Gum disease is categorized in three separate stages based on its level of severity at the time of diagnosis. These stages are:
Gingivitis is the beginning stage of gum disease. In many cases, individuals with gingivitis will notice that the gums bleed during brushing and flossing; however, this stage of periodontal disease may produce no visible symptoms in some instances. Since this level of gum disease typically does not indicate that the infection has begun affecting connective tissue and bone, gingivitis can frequently be reversed. Attending the recommended amount of dental check-ups and professional cleanings is a very important step toward identifying gingivitis and treating it before it progresses into later stages of periodontal disease.
When the bacterial infection that characterizes periodontal disease has begun to damage tissue and bone that keep the teeth securely in place, the condition has advanced to a more serious stage: periodontitis. At this point, deep pockets below the gumline may have developed, which can ultimately trap plaque and food. Noticeable gum recession may also be present during the periodontitis stage. Treatment will be necessary to reduce the infection and prevent additional, irreversible damage.
The advanced stage of periodontitis represents the most severe form of the condition. Advanced periodontitis has set in when connective fibers and bone have been nearly or completely destroyed by the infection. If left untreated, this stage can lead to teeth that feel loose in the mouth, even to the point that they are shifting position. Pain, bite irregularities, and serious risks to both oral and general health can be caused by advanced periodontitis. More aggressive periodontal treatment may be necessary at this stage of gum disease.
Gum Disease Treatments
The good news about gum disease is that there are effective treatments available that can control the condition and help to keep the gums in good health. Options include:
Scaling and Root Planing
Scaling and root planing is commonly referred to as a “deep cleaning”. During the scaling portion of the procedure, plaque, tartar, and calculus build-up are meticulously removed from between the teeth and below the gumline within the periodontal pockets. In order to reduce the size and depth of the pockets, the clean tooth roots may be smoothed by planing the root surface, which allows healthy gum tissue to re-adhere to the tooth. When the scaling and root planing is complete, antibiotics and/or antimicrobial solutions may be applied to control gum disease-causing bacteria.
After completion of periodontal therapy, it is always recommended for patients to return to the office for proper hygiene and maintenance due to the likelihood of periodontal disease returning without vigilant care. Maintenance visits are scheduled based on patient risk factors and the doctor’s recommendations, usually at intervals of 3 to 4 months. These appointments help to keep the disease under control, leading to a healthier smile in the future.
For more information about periodontal treatments to restore the health and beauty of your smile, contact our practice and schedule a consultation with Dr. Sheth.