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What is Periodontal (Gum) Disease?

The word "periodontal" means "around the tooth." Periodontal disease (also known as gum disease and periodontitis ) is a prevalent inflammatory state which affects the surrounding and supporting tissues of the tooth. It can also effect the jawbone in its later stages.

Gingivitis which is usually the forerunner of periodontal disease is a bacterial inflammation of gum tissue. A bacterial infection affects the gums when the byproducts within plaque begin to inflame and irritate the gum tissues. Once this bacterial infection speads in the gum pockets around the teeth, it starts to become more difficult to treat and remove.  Periodontal disease is a progressive state that sometimes  leads to the breakdown of the jawbone and connective tissue. If not treated, it can result in loose teeth, sudden tooth loss, and mobile teeth.

Periodontal disease is the prime cause of the loss of teeth in adults throughout the world and should always be treated in its beginning stages.

What are the types of Periodontal Disease?

When left without treatment, gingivitis (moderate gum inflammation) can penetrate under the gum line. When the gums become imflammed by the toxins within in plaque, a sudden inflammatory response cause a reaction where the body begins to breakdown its own soft tissue and bone.  There can be little to no symptoms as periodontal disease causes the teeth to move apart from the inflammed gum tissue. Deeper pockets in between the teeth and gums  commonly show that bone and soft tissue is being affected by periodontal disease.

What are some of the most common types of periodontal disease?

  • Chronic periodontitis –Infection within nearby tissues cause gum recession and pocking. It may seem like the teeth are longer, but in actuality, the gingival (gums) are receding. This is the most usual type of periodontal disease and is manifest by a continual breakdown of the attachment, interspersed with times of swift progression.
  • Aggressive periodontitis – This form of gum disease happens in a seemingly healthy individual. It is shown by rapid breakdown of gum attachment, and steady bone breakdown.
  • Necrotizing periodontitis – This type of periodontal disease generally happens in individuals suffering from systemic forms such as immunosuppression, malnutrition and HIV. Tissue death (necrosis) happens in the gingival tissues, periodontal ligament, and alveolar bone.
  • Periodontitis caused by systemic disease – This type of gum disease generally starts at an early age. Medical situation such as diabetes, respiratory disease, and heart disease are common cofactors.

What is the treatment for Periodontal Disease?

There are several surgical and nonsurgical treatments the dentist can select to perform, depending upon the precise condition of the gums, teeth, and jawbone. A full periodontal exam of the mouth can be done prior to any treatment being recommended or performed.

What are some of the more common treatments for periodontal disease?

  • Scaling and root planing (SRP) – To be able to save the health of the gum tissue, the calculus (tartar) and plaque which initially caused the inflammation, must be removed. The gum pockets will be treated and cleaned with antibiotics  to help stop the infection. A prescription rinse can be part of the daily cleaning routine.
  • Tissue regeneration – When the gum tissues and bone have been destroyed, grafting procedures can be used to establish new growth. A membrane can be placed into the infected areas to help in the regenerated condition.
  • Pocket elimination surgery – Pocket elimination surgery (AKA flap surgery) is a surgical procedure that can be administered to reduce the pocket size between the gums and teeth. Jawbone surgery is another option which leads to stop indentations in the bone which leads to the buildup of bacteria.
  • Dental implants – When teeth are lost as a result of  periodontal disease, the functionality and aesthetics of the mouth can be replaced by implanting prosthetic teeth into the jawbone. Prior to placing a dental implant, tissue regeneration steps may be performed in order to fortify the bone.

Dr. Braithwaite or a member of his staff can answer concerns and questions about periodontal treatment, periodontal disease, or dental implants.