Services - Periodontal Treatment

The word periodontal means “around the tooth”.  Periodontal disease attacks the gums and the bone that support the teeth.  Plaque is a sticky film of food debris, bacteria, and saliva.  If plaque is not removed, it turns into calculus (tartar).  When plaque and calculus are not removed, they begin to destroy the gums and bone.  Periodontal disease is characterized by red, swollen, and bleeding gums.
Four out of five people have periodontal disease and don’t know it!  Most people are not aware of it because the disease is usually painless in the early stages.
Not only is it the number one reason for tooth loss, research suggests that there may be a link between periodontal disease and other diseases such as, stroke, bacterial pneumonia, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and increased risk during pregnancy.  Researchers are determining if inflammation and bacteria associated with periodontal disease affects these systemic diseases and conditions.  Smoking also increases the risk of periodontal disease.

Good oral hygiene, a balanced diet, and regular dental visits can help reduce your risk of developing periodontal disease.

Signs and symptoms of periodontal disease:

• Bleeding gums – Gums should never bleed, even when you brush vigorously or use dental floss.
• Loose teeth – Also caused by bone loss or weakened periodontal fibers (fibers that support the tooth to the bone).
• New spacing between teeth – Caused by bone loss.
• Persistent bad breath – Caused by bacteria in the mouth.
• Pus around the teeth and gums – Sign that there is an infection present.
• Receding gums – Loss of gum around a tooth.
• Red and puffy gums – Gums should never be red or swollen.
• Tenderness or Discomfort – Plaque, calculus, and bacteria irritate the gums and teeth.

Diagnosis
Periodontal disease is diagnosed during a periodontal examination.  This type of exam should always be part of your regular dental check-up.

A periodontal probe (small dental instrument) is gently used to measure the sulcus (pocket or space) between the tooth and the gums.  The depth of a healthy sulcus measures three millimeters or less and does not bleed.  The periodontal probe helps indicate if pockets are deeper than three millimeters.  As periodontal disease progresses, the pockets usually get deeper.

Tooth pocket depths, amount of bleeding, inflammation, and tooth mobility will be used to make a diagnosis that will fall into a category below:

Gingivitis

Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease.  Plaque and its toxin by-products irritate the gums, making them tender, inflamed, and likely to bleed.

Periodontitis

Plaque hardens into calculus (tartar).  As calculus and plaque continue to build up, the gums begin to recede from the teeth.  Deeper pockets form between the gums and teeth and become filled with bacteria and pus.  The gums become very irritated, inflamed, and bleed easily.  Slight to moderate bone loss may be present.

Advanced Periodontitis

The teeth lose more support as the gums, bone, and periodontal ligament continue to be destroyed.  Unless treated, the affected teeth will become very loose and may be lost.  Generalized moderate to severe bone loss may be present.

Maintenance

It only takes twenty four hours for plaque that is not removed from your teeth to turn into calculus (tartar)!  Daily home cleaning helps control plaque and tartar formation, but those hard to reach areas will always need special attention.

Once your periodontal treatment has been completed, your dentist and dental hygienist will recommend that you have regular maintenance cleanings (periodontal cleanings), usually four times a year.  At these cleaning appointments, the pocket depths will be carefully checked to ensure that they are healthy.  Plaque and calculus that is difficult for you to remove on a daily basis will be removed from above and below the gum line.
In addition to your periodontal cleaning and evaluation, your appointment will usually include:

• Examination of diagnostic x-rays (radiographs): Essential for detection of decay, tumors, cysts, and bone loss.X-rays also help determine tooth and root positions.
• Examination of existing restorations: Check current fillings, crowns, etc.
• Examination of tooth decay: Check all tooth surfaces for decay.
• Oral cancer screening: Check the face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, cheek tissues, and gums for any signs of oral cancer.
• Oral hygiene recommendations: Review and recommend oral hygiene aids as needed. (Electric toothbrushes, special periodontal brushes, fluorides, rinses, etc.)
• Teeth polishing: Remove stain and plaque that is not otherwise removed during tooth brushing and scaling.
Good oral hygiene practices and periodontal cleanings are essential in maintaining dental health and keeping periodontal disease under control!

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