Periodontal disease or Periodontitis is a disease primarily of the gums. It begins as gingivitis then deteriorates into Periodontal disease, affecting the gums and bones which support the teeth. With these structures compromised the result is weakened teeth, tooth decay or the eventual loss of teeth. The best solution to prevent the progressive worsening of Periodontal disease is early treatment of gingivitis.
Periodontal disease manifests itself with differing severity based on the stage of development. The information below will help you to identify the various stages however the best solution is prevention or treatment in the early stages.
Progression of Periodontal Disease
The initial stage or periodontal disease begins with the manifestation of gingivitis. It is characterized by swelling in the gums with resulting pain and redness. Bleeding usually occurs with brushing as well as plaque build up being evident on the teeth. This can be prevented by brushing regularly and flossing. Visiting your dentist at the onset however and following through on the guidelines provided can cure the condition.
If left untreated gingivitis will develop into mild periodontal disease. This worsened form causes severe swelling right down to the bones of the maxilla and mandible which hold the teeth in place. As a result, the connective tissues which provide extra anchorage for the teeth will be affected thus causing the teeth to also become loose. At this point bone degradation will begin. Urgent medical attention from a trained dentist must be sought at this point and any stage beyond.
The final stage of progression is severe periodontal disease which signals that some irreversible damage may also have been done. Teeth may become loosened to the point where they cannot be retained and the gums become utterly diseased. The gums will appear severely recessed, ooze pus and have visible abrasions. The infection would have become so bad that it will inevitably affect the breath and there would be further bone loss, progressing from mild to moderate or severe. Only an appointment with a Periodontist can provide any hope of salvaging the teeth that are left and restoring health to the gums and surrounding tissue.
Methods of Treatment for Periodontal Disease
The type of treatment method chosen to address the problems of periodontal disease will be determined by the progression of the disease. Periodontists make use of a number of procedures which range from non-surgical, surgical, restorative and cosmetic procedures. Some of the options for treatment will be addressed below.
Biannually Scheduled Teeth Cleaning
It recommended that dental checkups be scheduled every 6 months. This preventative maintenance method of treatment allows for a regular assessment of the condition of the teeth so that the dentist can give the best advice for care going forward. The cleaning gets rid of debris, plaque and bacteria below the gum line and on the surfaces to stave off decay and prevent Periodontitis. This is a non-surgical method.
Scaling and Root Planing
These non-surgical procedures work together to clean the root of the teeth. The tartar and plaque are removed from the surface of the roots to get rid of bacteria and is usually followed by smoothing of the roots. In many cases antimicrobials are administered at the root to further get rid of bacteria and clear up infection. In many cases maintenance checkups are required to ensure that the health of teeth and gums are in good order.
This other non-surgical treatment method makes use of custom made trays made from an individual’s dental impressions. These fit comfortably into the mouth and are used to deliver medications the dentist has prescribed to treat cases of infection. They may be used alone or in conjunction with another form of periodontal treatment.
This surgical procedure uses gum tissue from an unaffected area to promote the regeneration of gum tissue. In the case of receding gums where the roots of the teeth have become exposed or in bone loss, this method helps to re-grow the tissue and halt the process of degradation.
Regeneration via Bone Grafting
This involves planting fragments of bone in areas of the jaw line where bone mass has been lost. The result is the regeneration of bone so that the teeth can be properly anchored and prevented from falling out.
Dental Implants and Dentures
In cases where teeth have been completely lost, dental implants or dentures may be recommended to replace them. Dental implants can only be used if there is enough bone mass or a good structure to support the implant. The procedure is surgical and the replacement tooth may be inserted into the bone or on top of the jaw line.
Dentures are a common solution for replacing lost teeth. It is a non-surgical procedure which requires an impression being taken so that a customized prosthetic can be made to comfortably fit into the mouth. It also requires healthy gums and a good supportive bone structure.
Practice good oral hygiene, brushing and flossing regularly to prevent the development of gingivitis which is the first stage of periodontal disease. Supporting this with other good oral hygiene habits like changing your toothbrush as often as recommended will help to stave off infections. The method of treatment required for periodontal disease is determined by the stage of the disease. The best defence is preventative maintenance for optimal oral health.