Periodontal disease is the medical term for gum disease, the leading cause of tooth loss in American adults.Gum disease is caused by bacteria that build up along the gum line, often “hiding” in or behind hard tartar deposits or sticky plaque. As these bacteria multiply, they emit toxins that cause the gum tissue to pull away from the surface of the teeth and to recede or move farther down the tooth surface, allowing the bacteria to migrate downward to the root pocket. Once inside the root area, the bacteria can cause infections and tooth weakening, eventually leading to tooth loss. The earliest stage of periodontal disease is called gingivitis while the advanced stage is called periodontitis.
In its early stages, gum disease can cause few symptoms, which is one reason why having routine checkups and cleanings are so critically important to oral health. As the disease progresses, it can cause symptoms like:
In its early stages, gum disease may be treated with routine dental cleanings and improvements in home care to remove plaque and bacteria from along the gum line and between teeth. As the disease progresses, deeper cleaning techniques called root planing and scaling form the cornerstone of periodontal treatment, reaching below the gums to remove bacteria in the root pocket and clinging to tooth roots. Planing smooths root surfaces to make it harder for bacteria to “stick.” Special antibiotics may also be applied to the root area to destroy bacteria that are difficult to reach. When gum recession is severe, gum grafting surgery may be necessary to replace lost gum tissue with healthy gum tissue taken from elsewhere in the mouth. Gum grafts build up tissue around the lower portion of the teeth to help protect roots from bacterial buildup in the future.
Feel free to email us regarding any scheduling or general questions!