Periodontics is a branch of medicine that focuses on gum, or periodontal disease. Periodontists specialize in the treatment and prevention of these diseases. Periodontal disease is very common. A recent study published in the Journal of Periodontology concluded that 46 percent of adults over the age of 30 in the U.S. suffer from some form of gum disease (gingivitis).
While there are quite a number of things that can go wrong with your gums, there are 6 common types of gum disease.
Types of Gum Disease
The most common and mildest form. Healthy gums are pink and firm. Gums that are red, swollen, sore or bleed easily may be affected by gingivitis. Most often, this mild condition is the result of poor oral hygiene. With professional treatment and a renewed commitment to proper oral care, gingivitis can be reversed before it develops into one of the more severe conditions below.
This is an advanced form of gum disease. While the surface may be sore, red and swollen, the disease is actually doing the worst of its damage below the surface. It can cause the bones anchoring your teeth to atrophy, resulting in loose teeth, and in time loss of teeth. Symptoms of periodontitis include chronic bad breath, receding gums, and even pus-filled pockets in your gums that are the result of bacterial infections. Periodontitis is treatable and reversible, but it is vitally important to see us as soon as you detect the first signs.
Left untreated, periodontitis will progress to this advanced stage. Gum tissues, bone and the ligaments in your gums that hold teeth in place will break down rapidly. While still treatable, this advanced stage of periodontitis is likely to result in the loss of at least some teeth and a permanent reduction in the strength of the supporting bone.
Of all the advanced forms of gingivitis, this is the most common. While it usually progresses slowly over time, this condition will result in the loss of supporting bone structure, gum recession from mild to extreme and sometimes pockets of infection in the gums. If you are suffering from these symptoms, come and see us right away. With proper professional care and oral hygiene, this condition can be cured and some of the damage may even be reversible.
It is possible to have good oral hygiene and still develop gum disease. Some medical conditions may leave you susceptible, including diabetes, heart disease, and respiratory diseases. All of these conditions may reduce blood flow to the gums, resulting in atrophy and an increased susceptibility to infection.
Necrotizing Periodontal Disease
A severe but fortunately rare form of gum disease, this condition usually affects people afflicted by certain systemic diseases such as malnutrition, HIV and other conditions affecting the immune system. Necrosis is the death of living tissue while still attached to the body. These conditions affect blood flow or immune responses in the gums, resulting in gum and bone necrosis. Dead tissues cannot be revived, so while this condition is treatable, the effects are not reversible. Early treatment is key to reducing the damage.
Treatment for Periodontal Disease
This acronym stands for Scaling and Root Planing. It’s a non-surgical procedure and the first step in treating periodontal disease. Plaque and tartar are scaled off the teeth and the root surfaces. Gum tissue is peeled away from the roots to allow access. The gums will reattach in time. The roots are smoothed where necessary to deprive bacteria of places to gather.
Also called flap surgery. In cases where pockets of infection are present under the gum line, you may require a pocket reduction procedure. The gum is peeled away from the tooth and the infected area is thoroughly cleaned. The tooth surface is smoothed to prevent future accumulation of bacteria and to allow a clean, healthy surface for the gum to reattach itself.
In cases of severe gum recession, we can take a graft from another area of your mouth, usually your palate, and attach it over the recessed area. This protects the roots, reducing sensitivity and stopping further recession as long as good hygiene is observed.
If you have lost critical amounts of supporting bone, we first thoroughly clean the area of any bacteria. Then, using either natural or synthetic bone, we replace the missing bone. The area is treated with tissue-stimulating proteins to encourage regrowth and bonding of the bone, as well as regeneration of the surrounding tissues.
If you are a smoker, you will be strongly advised to quit during the healing process. Smoking inhibits proper blood flow to the tissues of the mouth and may prevent healing or acceptance of grafts.
In addition, we’ll counsel you on proper oral hygiene to be sure that your gum disease does not reoccur. Good home care is essential to recovery and prevention.