Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is prevalent among American adults and begins as common gingivitis. Gingivitis is a condition typically characterized by irritation, inflammation, or bleeding of the gums. More severe forms of periodontal disease, which develop from untreated gingivitis, are considered progressive conditions that can lead to connective tissue and jawbone damage. When left untreated, periodontal disease can also lead to problems such as receding gums, bone loss, loose teeth, tooth loss, and even serious risks to your overall health.
For these reasons, our experienced dentist, Dr. Rafael Yanez, recommends frequent oral/periodontal exams so the disease can be caught in its earliest stages. Early detection allows for prompt treatment and the prevention of more complicated issues. Since some patients may not exhibit symptoms of gum disease until its advanced stages, frequent periodontal exams are particularly important for maintaining good oral health. A periodontal exam can be easily performed as part your twice-yearly routine dental check-up at I.Dentical – All About Your Smile.
Types of Periodontal Disease
When gingivitis is allowed to worsen, plaque hardens into tartar, the gums recede from the teeth, and harmful bacteria multiply, causing increased irritation and infection. To determine if you have periodontal disease, Dr. Yanez will examine the gums for any inflammation or bleeding, inspect pocket depths between the teeth and the gum line, and check for unusual tooth movement. Periodontal disease can manifest in a number of different ways and is considered the leading cause of tooth loss among adults in the United States.
The most common types of periodontal disease include:
- Chronic periodontitis: The most common form of periodontal disease, chronic periodontitis is characterized by a progressive loss of the bone tissue that surrounds the roots of the teeth and holds them in place. Inflammation of these tissues that support the teeth can cause the formation of deep pockets around the teeth in addition to gum recession. This progression of tissue loss is typically gradual, interspersed with periods of more rapid bone loss. Your teeth may appear longer as a result of this tissue loss.
- Aggressive periodontitis: Characterized by rapid loss of gum attachment, chronic bone damage, and familial aggregation, aggressive periodontitis most often occurs in otherwise clinically healthy patients.
- Necrotizing periodontitis: This form of periodontal disease is characterized by tissue death in the periodontal ligament, alveolar bone, or gingival tissues. Necrotizing periodontitis typically occurs in patients who suffer from systemic conditions such as HIV, immunosuppression, or malnutrition.
- Periodontitis caused by systemic disease: This type of periodontitis resembles necrotizing periodontitis but often begins at an early age due to medical conditions such as respiratory disease, diabetes, and heart disease.
Treatment for Periodontal Disease
Dr. Yanez will choose from a number of available surgical and non-surgical treatments to treat your periodontal disease depending upon your individual circumstances. Before selecting a treatment method, a complete periodontal exam will be used to determine the unique condition of your teeth, gums and jawbone. Afterward, Dr. Yanez will choose the method that can best address your specific type of periodontal disease.
The most common treatments for periodontal disease include:
- Scaling and root planing: When bacteria and tartar (also called calculus) are the initial cause of periodontal disease, these infectious agents must be removed to preserve the health of the gum tissue. In order to eliminate harmful bacteria and tartar, Dr. Yanez will thoroughly clean the gum pockets and treat the site of the infection with antibiotics. In addition, Dr. Yanez may recommend a prescription mouthwash to incorporate into your daily oral hygiene routine to help prevent recurrence.
- Tissue regeneration: If significant amounts of bone and gum tissue have been destroyed due to periodontal disease, grafting procedures can be used to regrow and rejuvenate the affected areas. In some cases, a membrane may be used to assist in this regeneration process. Tissue regeneration can strengthen weakened tooth support and help prevent tooth loss.
- Pocket elimination surgery: Pocket elimination surgery (also known as flap surgery) is a surgical treatment that can reduce the space between the teeth and the gums. This procedure minimizes the spaces where harmful bacteria can colonize. In addition, surgery on the jawbone can eliminate indentations that can foster bacteria and lead to further damage.
- Dental implants: If periodontal disease has reached such an advanced stage that the patient has suffered tooth loss, dental implants can restore both the functionality and the aesthetics the mouth. Dental implant surgery uses artificial teeth that are individually fused to the jawbone for results that look and feel natural.
If you would like to learn more about maintaining a healthy mouth and our custom-tailored approaches to periodontal care, please contact us today at (215) 923-2233.