What Is Periodontal Disease?
You may have heard of periodontal disease simply referred to as “gum disease”. You may also have heard it called “gingivitis” or “periodontitis”. Let’s clear up some confusion.
- Periodontal disease – Synonymous with gum disease, this is a painful inflammation of the gums due to infection from the bacteria found in plaque.
- Gingivitis – The early stage of periodontal disease.
- Periodontitis – The advanced stage of gum disease.
As any Rigby dentist can attest, plaque is the root cause of almost every dental problem, and in periodontal disease, it’s the main culprit as well.
Plaque is acidic and full of bacteria. As it is left to fester at the gumline, the body begins to interpret it as an infection and thus releases a hormone that causes the gums to become inflamed. (Inflammation is one of the many self-defense mechanisms your body has against infection and damage.)
The early stage of periodontal disease, gingivitis, is reversible – but you need to act fast. The first step is recognizing it. Symptoms of gingivitis include:
- Excessive bleeding when brushing your teeth
- Discolored gums (usually red or purple)
- Mild gum sensitivity
- Halitosis (persistent bad breath)
Your Rigby dentist can perform a number of periodontal disease treatments to reverse the problem. Often this involves a process called “scaling” in which the dentist clears away plaque and tartar (plaque that has solidified into a hard crust) from the gums. Dental cleanings are also performed, and your dentist will probably schedule some follow-up appointments
Gingivitis, if left unchecked, will eventually progress into the advanced stage of periodontal disease called periodontitis. Unlike gingivitis, periodontitis is irreversible, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t treatment options available to help keep it in check.
Symptoms of periodontitis include:
- Intense pain in the gums, especially when brushing
- Severe bleeding when brushing
- Gum recession
- Shifting teeth
- Loose teeth
- Tooth loss
- Deterioration of the jawbone around the tooth roots
Periodontitis treatment generally requires surgical treatments such as:
- Flap surgery (pocket reduction surgery) – This involves small incisions into a section of the gums that are then pulled back to reveal the tooth root – the periodontitis then performs more in-depth scaling.
- Soft tissue grafts – To rectify the problem of advanced gum recession, a small portion of the upper palate can be removed and grafted to the gums.
- Bone grafting – Jaw bone deterioration due to periodontitis can be resolved with the placement bone (either your own, a donor’s, or a synthetic bone-like material) onto the affected area.
- Guided tissue regeneration – When the jawbone has deteriorated in certain areas, a biocompatible fabric can be placed in these areas so that unwanted tissue (namely, gum tissue) doesn’t grow in its place.
- Tissue-stimulating proteins – This involves the placement of a protein-rich gel onto the diseased tooth root, stimulating healthy growth of bone tissue.
Your Rigby dentist may refer you to a licensed periodontist.
How To Prevent Periodontal Disease
The simple answer is to maintain healthy brushing and flossing habits. Commit to brushing your teeth twice a day – once in the morning and once at night – every day for the rest of your life.
Periodontal disease happens due to plaque build-up. Don’t let this happen. Maintain good oral hygiene habits and schedule regular appointments with your Rigby dentist.