The term “periodontal” means “around the tooth.” Therefore, periodontal disease affects the gums and bone supporting the teeth. Gum, or periodontal, disease can cause inflammation, tooth loss and bone damage. The infection starts when the gums become inflamed due to bacteria in plaque, a sticky, colorless film that forms on your teeth. While this often is the main cause of periodontal disease, other factors also can be attributed to affecting the health of the gums and bone, including:
- Smoking or tobacco use
- Poor nutrition
Periodontal disease comes in many forms. Gingivitis is perhaps the mildest form of gum disease. While the gums become red, swollen and bleed easily, there is very little or no discomfort associated at this stage of the disease. Through a good oral hygiene regimen and treatment from your dentist, the results of gingivitis can be reversed.
Periodontitis is another form of periodontal disease and can be aggressive or chronic. Aggressive periodontitis displays rapid bone destruction and attachment loss in clinically healthy patients. Chronic periodontitis is one of the most common forms of periodontal disease and frequently is seen in adults. The stages progress slowly and can be recognized by gum recession and pocket formation.
Treatment and Prevention
Based on the diagnostic information we gather, we may recommend scaling and root planing to treat periodontal disease. In more advances cases, we may refer the patient to a periodontist, a dentist who specializes in the treatment of gum disease.
Good oral hygiene and regular visits with your dentist and periodontist can prevent periodontal disease. Daily brushing and flossing can keep plaque to a minimum and, in conjunction with professional cleanings two to four times a year, can keep your teeth healthy for life.