Cause and EffectsPeriodontal disease, or gum disease, is a common inflammatory condition, which affects the soft tissue surrounding the tooth, and in it's advance stages can even affect the jawbone. Periodontal disease occurs when toxins of plaque build-up and irritate and inflame the gum tissues, bacteria colonize in the gum pockets between the teeth. It is difficult to remove and treat irritation once it exists between the teeth. For this reason, periodontal disease is a progressive condition, and if left untreated, can lead to shifting teeth and tooth loss. Periodontal disease is actually the leading cause of adult tooth loss in the developed world.
- Diagnosis - A periodontal exam should always be a part of your regular dental check-up. Your dentist or dental hygienist will perform an exam and will measure the pocket between the teeth and the gums. A measurement of three millimeters or less without bleeding is desired.
- Gingivitis - Gingivitis is the earliest stage of periodontal disease. This is when bacterial plaque and associated toxins irritate the gums causing them to be tender, inflamed, and likely bleed.
- Periodontitis - Plaque eventually becomes calculus or tartar and as it builds up, the gums will recede away from the teeth. Deeper pockets begin to form and fill with bacteria and pus. Gum irritation becomes more apparent during this stage. Slight to moderate bone loss begins to occur.
- Advanced Periodontitis - During this stage, teeth lose more support as gums, bone, and periodontal ligament continue to be ruined. Without treatment, the affected teeth will become loose and will likely be lost. Moderate to severe bone loss may occur.
- Treatment - Your periodontal treatment regimen will depend on the type and severity of gum disease. Dr. Thomas will consider your condition and recommend an appropriate treatment plan. Treatment options range from better hygiene habits, medications, medicated mouthwashes, an electric toothbrush, more frequent office visits for professional periodontal maintenance, and deeper root planning or periodontal scaling.
- Maintenance - Once your recommended periodontal treatment has been completed. Dr. Thomas will recommend periodic prophies or periodontal maintenance, possibly up to four times a year depending on your individual needs and your compliance.