What Is Periodontal Disease?

What Is Periodontal Disease?

Team Periodontics

Periodontal disease is more commonly known as gum disease. It is a bacterial infection in the support around the teeth. Periodontal disease is one of the most common conditions affecting oral health, but it is also one of the most easily prevented. Learn more about periodontal disease and how to best maintain your oral health. 

Understanding Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease occurs when plaque bacteria infects the gums, the soft pink tissue that provides support for your teeth. Plaque is a sticky film made of food residue and bacteria that clings to the teeth. When plaque builds up on the teeth and is not removed by brushing and flossing, the bacteria contained in the plaque will start to infect the gum tissue. As the infection worsens it becomes more difficult to treat resulting in loss of the bone support around the teeth.  This can ultimately lead to tooth loss.

Stages of Periodontal Disease 

Periodontal disease develops in stages: 

  • Gingivitis. The earliest stage of periodontal disease is gingivitis. The gums may appear red and swollen due to inflammation. They may bleed during brushing. At this point it is possible to reverse the gum disease by brushing and flossing more effectively to remove plaque. A good dental cleaning will greatly aid this resolution.
  • Early periodontitis. When periodontal disease is fully present, the gums may begin to recede (pull away) from the teeth, causing pockets to develop between the teeth and gums. More plaque bacteria can gather in these pockets causing the infection to worsen. Damage to the surrounding bone begins to develop. 
  • Moderate periodontitis. As periodontal disease progresses, the damage to the gum tissue and bone worsens, resulting in loose teeth. 
  • Advanced periodontitis. When periodontal disease reaches the advanced stage some of the teeth may be lost and abscesses can form on the gums. 

Negative Effects of Periodontal Disease 

The negative effects of periodontal disease may include: 

  • Receding gums. Periodontal disease causes the gum tissue to pull away from the teeth, leaving the teeth unsupported. 
  • Tooth loss. Advanced periodontal disease can cause the teeth to become loose and even fall out. 
  • Jaw bone damage. Even early stage periodontal disease begins to damage the jaw bone, compromising the support for the teeth. 
  • Related health conditions. Periodontal disease has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease, negative pregnancy outcomes, and Alzheimer’s disease. 

Treatment for Periodontal Disease 

Periodontal disease can be treated with a few different procedures according to the severity of your infection. 

  • Scaling and root planing. Scaling and root planing is a non-surgical treatment that provides a deep cleaning of your teeth. Scaling removes plaque and calculus from the teeth under the gums. Root planing smooths the surface of the tooth roots which lesson the ability for bacteria to accumulate.. 
  • Periodontal surgery. If the infection is not resolved with scaling and root planing, periodontal surgery may be applied reduces the pockets between the teeth and gums to eliminate spaces for plaque to gather. Gum recession treatment  may be applied to regrow the lost support.

Frequently Asked Questions About Periodontal Disease 

Can periodontal disease be cured?

Depending on the extent of the disease, it is possible to cure periodontal disease. Regular periodontal maintenance at the dentist office as well as effective home care can keep gum disease under control in most cases to prevent further damage to your oral tissues. 

Why do I need to see a periodontist for gum disease?

Periodontists specialize in the treatment of gum disease and procedures that affect the support structures for the teeth, including the gums and jaw bone. They can provide an advanced level of care that not only treats existing gum disease, but repairs the residual damage. 

Why See a Periodontist for Gum Disease Treatment? 

Gingivitis and early stage gum disease may be easily treated with help from your dentist and some changes to your oral hygiene routine. But more advanced gum disease and the resulting damage may require the expertise of a periodontist. Progressive Periodontics & Implant Dentistry provides treatment for all stages of periodontal disease to restore your oral health. 

Contact us today to learn more and schedule an appointment at either of our two convenient locations.