Periodontal Disease is the term used for a group of diseases ranging from gingivitis to periodontitis. The cause of this disease is the bacteria in dental plaque. If plaque, a colorless sticky film that covers the teeth, is not removed daily with brushing and flossing, the bacteria will cause the gum tissue to become red and swollen. This first stage, gingivitis, can and may be reversed by visiting your dentist and hygienist along with your efforts at brushing and flossing.
If left untreated, however, the bacteria will continue to multiply and change over time. The tissue around the teeth will form pockets of infection and the bacteria will produce toxins. The disease has now progressed from gingivitis to periodontitis, the destructive form of the disease. Like any other infection, your body’s immune system will work to fight off the infection. In an effort to eliminate the infection, the bone and soft tissue that support the teeth will be destroyed. This may result in loss of teeth. Periodontitis is considered a chronic inflammatory infection. Without treatment and continued management of this disease, your body is unable to fight off the infection.
It is important to note that there are several risk factors for periodontitis such as age, stress, family history, smoking and certain systemic diseases, to name a few. Although gums that bleed are a sign of periodontal disease, sometimes there is actually no bleeding at all. Periodontal disease rarely causes pain until the later stages of the disease. For these reasons, it is extremely important to have a complete periodontal examination on a yearly basis by your dentist or periodontist.
Of great concern is the connection between periodontitis and other systemic diseases. It appears the link is chronic inflammation which is also associated with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, respiratory diseases and certain cancers. This is a new area of study called Oral Medicine. Click here to learn more.
Scaling and Root Planing
For some patients, the early stages of periodontal disease may be treated with a procedure called Scaling and Root Planning. The first step of this procedure is accomplished by placing a fine ultrasonic tip between the tooth and tissue, in the periodontal pocket, to remove plaque, calculus and lower the numbers of bacteria. This is followed by the use of specifically shaped instruments designed to clean the root and remove any remaining bacteria. A smooth clean root surface allows the tissue to reattach. In about 4 weeks, periodontal pockets may be reduced or eliminated when the tissue reattaches and the swelling is reduced. With good oral health care techniques and shallow periodontal pockets, patients can, in many cases, maintain these areas.
Scaling and Root Planning procedures are typically done in a series of appointments. Depending on the level of disease, one to four appointments may be necessary, followed by a re-evaluation appointment of the treated areas about 4 weeks later. Local anesthesia may be used during Scaling and Root Planning for your comfort. Post treatment discomfort is minimal, and this procedure, generally, does not interrupt your normal, daily routine.
Our practice provides a variety of surgical services. Our periodontists go to great lengths to be gentle in their treatment and limit surgery to only the areas where it is absolutely necessary. Our patients report being comfortable during surgery and most have very little discomfort after surgery, with minimal or no pain medication needed.
Occasionally, periodontal bone and gum destruction has occurred in such a way that regeneration of this lost bone and gum tissue is possible. This treatment helps to reverse the effects of periodontal disease, restoring the tissue closer to how it was originally.