Periodontal disease, also known as periodontitis, gingivitis, or gum disease, is a destructive and dangerous oral health condition. Categorized by the infection and inflammation of gingival tissue, gum disease can affect the entire oral health system as well as a person’s general wellbeing. In fact, gum disease is linked to stroke, heart problems, and Alzheimer’s.
Most of the time, periodontal disease begins as a minor infection that may go unnoticed by patients because it does not always produce noticeable symptoms. Gum disease must be addressed with lifestyle changes such as meticulous oral hygiene and periodontal treatment to prevent its progression into an incurable condition.
How Gum Disease Develops
Gum disease begins when colonized bacteria irritates the gums. This normally occurs when plaque is not removed by proper oral hygiene. As the gums become irritated, they will become inflamed and susceptible to infection. If inadequate oral hygiene is the reason for inflammation, plaque will harden into to tartar. Once tartar begins to accumulate, the gums will pull away or “recede” from teeth. Gum recession allows tartar to develop along the roots of teeth and ultimately form periodontal pockets. With time, the infection will spread and the support structures of teeth (gums and bone) will erode. Advanced gum disease can lead to a chronic infection that may enter the bloodstream and because it destroys the support structure of teeth, can eventually lead to tooth loss. When gum disease advances to periodontitis, it must be treated to preserve what is left of oral health structures and prevent further destruction.
Treating Periodontal Disease
Once gum disease is diagnosed, your dentist or periodontist will develop a treatment plan that meets your needs. Periodontal treatment can include specialized prophylaxis called “root scaling and planing”, a procedure that cleans and removes tartar formation in periodontal pockets, and surgeries to reattach gum tissue. If a patient is diagnosed with gum disease and/or undergoing treatment, practicing proper oral hygiene is very important. A daily oral hygiene routine should include at least two, two-minute brushings along with thorough daily flossing.
To learn more about your treatment options for gum disease, call our practice to reserve a consultation with our dentist.