What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is a medical term for gum disease. Gums normally protect the base of the teeth and hold them to the bone. However, periodontal disease threatens the health of gums. Left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss.

What are the types of periodontal disease?

There are two types of periodontal disease: gingivitis and periodontitis. In gingivitis, the bacteria in plaque builds up, causing the gums to become red, swollen, tender, and bleed during and after tooth brushing. There is not a whole lot of intense pain; so many people don't get the treatment they need.

When gingivitis (gum inflammation) is left untreated, it can lead to periodontitis (gum disease).

When you have periodontitis, gums pull away from the teeth, leaving deep pockets where bacteria can grow and damage the bone. When the pockets deepen, more gum tissue and bone are destroyed.

Symptoms of periodontitis include: gums pulling away from teeth, persistent bad breath, pus coming from the gum, a change in your bite and loose or shifting teeth.

What causes periodontal disease?

In your mouth there is a clear substance called plaque that contains bacteria. The bacteria in plaque can irritate the gums and cause the gum tissues to break down. If you don’t remove plaque from your teeth then it can spread below the gums and damage the bone that supports the teeth.

Who is likely to get periodontal disease?

The people who are most likely to get periodontal disease are those who do not clean their teeth well, do smoke or chew tobacco, or have a condition that makes it harder for their body to fight infection. If anyone in your family has gum disease, you may be at greater risk, as well.

How is periodontal disease treated?

For a mild case of periodontal disease, your dentist or dental hygienist will remove the plaque and tartar from above and below the gum line of all your teeth. You may need a professional dental cleaning more than twice a year.

If your periodontal disease becomes worse, then your dentist will clean your teeth with scaling and root planing. This is when plaque and tartar are scraped away (scaling) and rough spots on the tooth root are made smooth (planing). You may also need to take antibiotics.

In some patients, scaling and root planing is all that is needed to treat gum diseases. However, surgery may be needed when the tissue around the teeth is unhealthy and cannot be repaired with nonsurgical options.

How can you prevent periodontal disease?

Brush your teeth three times a day, floss once each day, and visit your dentist every six months for regular checkups and teeth cleaning. Antibacterial mouth rinses can reduce bacteria that cause plaque and gum disease.

If you think you may have periodontal disease, make sure to take care of it before it gets worse. Please call (949) 760-0363 and schedule an appointment with an experienced dentist.