Periodontics refers to the dental specialty that is aimed at the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of periodontal disease that affects the gums and jawbone.
How does periodontal disease start:
Plaque, a sticky film of food debris, bacteria and saliva accumulates on teeth. If plaque is not removed, it turns into calculus or tartar. Plaque and tartar left on teeth will cause a mild gum inflammation called gingivitis.
Gingivitis is caused by a bacterial infection where the gums can be red, swollen, bleeding and painful. In some cases there are no noticeable symptoms. If gingivitis is left untreated it eventually goes on to become periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease (gum disease) is a chronic gum and bone inflammatory condition. Besides red, swollen and bleeding gums there is accompanying bone loss and tooth loosening. Very often patients are not aware of their condition as it is often painless in the early stages. Periodontal disease affects approximately four out of five patients.
Research suggests that there may be a link between the inflammation and bacteria associated with periodontal disease and medical conditions such as stroke, bacterial pneumonia, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and increased risk during pregnancy. Smoking also increases the risk of developing periodontal disease.
Signs and symptoms of periodontal disease:
Bleeding, red or puffy gums
New spacing between teeth
Persistent bad breath
Pus around the teeth and gums
Tenderness or discomfort
Treatment of periodontal disease:
- A conservative treatment called scaling and root planning is aimed at removing the bacteria and tartar from the teeth to reduce inflammation to allow the gums to heal properly.
- In more advanced cases pocket elimination treatment may be necessary and is typically performed by a gum specialist or periodontist.
- Good oral hygiene practices and regular periodontal cleanings are essential in maintaining dental health and keeping periodontal disease under control.
Reasons for periodontal treatment:
- to eliminate the bacterial infection caused by plaque and calculus
- to restore the gums to a more healthy state
- to cover parts of teeth where there has been gum recession (grafting)
- to make short teeth longer for certain crown procedures (crown lengthening)
- to replace lost bone after tooth loss (bone grafting)
- to replace lost teeth with implants
Contact our practice to learn more about periodontal treatment.