Periodontal disease is the medical term for gum disease. In general, gum disease is caused by the long-term exposure to plaque, the sticky but colorless film that forms on teeth after eating. Initially, plaque is soft and can easily be brushed and flossed off the teeth with good dental hygiene. However, if this plaque is not brushed and flossed away, over time it hardens and has to be scraped off the teeth with a professional cleaning.
In response to the hardened plaque, called tarter or calculus, the gums get red and inflammed. This is called gingivitis, and is the first stage of gum disease. Following this, if treatment is not done, the bone that anchors the teeth to the jawbones, slowly resorbs away and eventually teeth get loose and may need to be extracted. Once the bone resorbs away, it is gone for good and will not grow back on its own. There are various treatments (in our office or by a specialist) that can help regain bone support, but it will not occur naturally.
Gum disease originates in the gums, where infections form from harmful bacteria and other materials left behind from eating. Early warning signs include chronic bad breath, tender or painful swollen gums and minor bleeding after brushing or flossing. In many cases, however, gingivitis can go unnoticed. The infections can eventually cause the gums to separate from the teeth, creating even greater opportunities for infection and decay.
Although gum disease is the major cause of tooth loss in adults, in most cases it is avoidable with good oral hygiene at home, and having your teeth profesionally cleaned on a regular basis.
Periodontitis is treated in a number of ways. One method, called scaling and root planing, involves cleaning all the plaque and tarter off the teeth, both above and below the gumline. The root surface of the tooth is then smoothed. If successful, this procedure helps the gums reattach themselves to the tooth.
If periodontal disease is advanced, and beyond what we can treat in our office, we will encourage you to see a Periodontist, who is a dentist who specializes in treating gum disease. What Mother Nature gave you is the best and your natural teeth are meant to last a lifetime. If you are not true to them, they will be false to you !