Periodontal disease is an infection of the tissues that surround and support the teeth. It is caused by plaque formation on the teeth. These plaques contain bacteria that release toxins that irritate and inflame the gums and may lead to not only gum recession but the break down of bone around the teeth. This may result in teeth that become loose and may need to be removed.
The regular habit of daily oral hygiene, a balanced diet along with regular dental visits are critical to the prevention of periodontal disease.
Signs & Symptoms
Red, swollen or tender gums
Bleeding gums when you brush or floss
Receding gums - gums pull away from the teeth
Bad breath that doesn’t go away
Pus around the teeth and gums indicates an infection
Loose or separating teeth
A change in the way your teeth fit together
Periodontal disease is checked for at your 6 month cleanings. Your hygienist will use a periodontal probe as part of your examination to measure if any pockets between your teeth and gums are larger than 3 millimeters. They will also check for excessive bleeding and inflammation of gums as well as tooth movement.
The mildest form of periodontal disease is called gingivitis and causes red, swollen gums that may bleed. If caught in the early stages of periodontal disease, treatment may only require a few more frequent dental cleanings along with a more rigorous home oral care.
When the disease progresses to periodontitis, the gums and bone may break down. Treatment may require deeper scaling and root planing. This procedure usually takes several visits and one quadrant of the mouth is done at a time while the area is numb. The dentist will remove tarter and plaque beneath the gum line (scaling) The tooth’s root surface is also smoothed to allow the gum tissue to heal and reattach to the tooth. Antibiotics may be applied directly to the infected pockets to control infections.
If periodontal disease is severe, you may be referred to a periodontist, a dentist who specializes in treating periodontal disease with advanced treatment procedures.
How can I maintain periodontal health?
- Brush your teeth twice daily using a fluoride toothpaste.
- Floss between teeth daily
- Eat a healthy well rounded diet
- Don’t use tobacco in any form
- If you are prone to plaque build up, you may need a germ- fighting mouth rinse or tooth paste that can be recommended by Dr. Davis.
- Regular dental visits for exams and dental cleanings