What is Periodontal (Gum) Disease?
Periodontal disease (also referred to as gum disease or periodontitis ) refers to an inflammatory condition that attacks the supporting tissues of the tooth. The jawbone is eventually affected if the disease is allowed to progress to advanced stages.
Gingivitis, which is a bacterial infection that affects the gum, often precedes periodontal disease. A bacterial infection attacks the gum as a result of the toxins contained in plague irritating and causing the gum tissue to inflame. It becomes difficult to get rid of the bacterial infection once they are allowed to colonize in the gum pockets between the teeth. Periodontal disease is a progressive condition, and it eventually causes the jawbone and connective tissue to be destroyed. If not treated, it results in shifting teeth, loose teeth, and finally tooth loss.
Periodontal disease is responsible for most cases of tooth loss among adults globally and should not be treated with levity.
Types of Periodontal Disease
Gingivitis (mild gum inflammation) can even spread below the gum line if not treated. When the toxins present in plague irritates the gum, the body breaks done and destroys its own soft tissue and bone due to a chronic inflammatory response. You may see little to no symptom as periodontal disease results in the teeth separating from the infected gum tissue. There is obvious destruction of bone and soft tissue, which is shown by the deepening pockets between the teeth and gums.
Some of the most common forms of periodontal disease include:
- Chronic periodontitis – deep pockets and gum recession due to inflammation within supporting tissues. The teeth may appear to be increasing in length, but the gums are actually receding. This form of periodontal disease is the most common and is often characterized by progressive loss of attachment, coupled with periods of rapid progression.
- Aggressive periodontitis – this one often occurs in individuals who seem to be clinically healthy. It is mostly characterized by chronic bone destruction, rapid loss of gum attachment and familial aggregation.
- Necrotizing periodontitis – this particular form of periodontal disease is common in people who suffer from systemic conditions such as immunosuppression, HIV, and malnutrition. Tissue death (necrosis) occurs in the gingival tissues, alveolar bone, and periodontal ligament.
- Periodontitis caused by systemic disease – this one starts at an early age. Some of its common triggers include diabetes, respiratory disease, and heart disease.
Treatment for Periodontal Disease
There are lots of treatments (both surgical and non-surgical) which the periodontist may adopt, depending on the exact condition of the gums, teeth, and jawbone. Before the commencement of any treatment, the mouth will be comprehensively examined.
Some of the most common treatment for periodontal disease includes:
- Root planning and scaling – in preserving the health of the gum tissue, the calculus and bacteria, which were the initial cause of the infection, needs to be removed. The gum pockets are then cleaned using antibiotics, where necessary, to get rid of the infection. A prescription mouthwash may also be added to the daily cleaning routines.
- Tissue regeneration – grafting procedures can be used to initiate regrowth of gum tissues and bone that have been destroyed. The periodontist may insert a membrane into the affected area to aid regeneration.
- Pocket elimination surgery – this is also known as flap surgery. It is a surgical procedure which can help reduce the pocket size between the gums and the teeth. Another option is surgery on the jawbone which helps correct indentations in the bone which promotes bacteria colonization.
- Dental implants – when the functionality and aesthetics of the teeth have been lost as a result of periodontal disease, implanting prosthetic teeth into the jawbone can help restore it. Tissue regeneration procedures may be used to strengthen the bone before placing dental implants.
To learn more about periodontal disease, periodontal treatments, or dental implants, please contact our office.