What is Periodontal Disease?
The term “periodontal” means “around the tooth.” Periodontal disease (also known as Periodontitis) is a common inflammatory condition which affects the supporting and surrounding soft tissues of the tooth; also the bone itself when in its most advanced stages.
Periodontal disease is most often preceded by gingivitis which is a bacterial infection of the gum tissue. A bacterial infection affects the gums when the toxins contained in plaque begin to irritate and inflame the gum tissues. Once this bacterial infection colonizes in the gum pockets between the teeth, it becomes much more difficult to remove and treat. Periodontal disease is a progressive condition that eventually leads to the destruction of the connective tissue and jawbone. If left untreated, it can lead to shifting teeth, loose teeth and eventually tooth loss.
Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss among adults in the developed world and should always be promptly treated.
Diagnosis of Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease is diagnosed by Dr. Nason or your dental hygienist during your routine exam.
A periodontal probe (small dental instrument) is gently used to measure the sulcus (pocket or space) between the tooth and the gums. Once pockets reach a certain depth and are accompanied by bleeding and other indicators such as tooth mobility and bone loss, periodontal treatment is recommended.
Your dental hygienist will perform a special periodontal cleaning called scaling and root planing (deep cleaning). It is usually done one quadrant of the mouth at a time while the area is numb. In this procedure, tartar, plaque, and toxins are removed from above and below the gum line (scaling) and rough spots on root surfaces are made smooth (planing). This procedure helps gum tissue to heal and pockets to shrink. Medications, medicated mouth rinses, and an electric tooth brush may be recommended to help control infection and healing.
After the completion of the periodontal cleaning, your hygienist will recommend an interval for you to come back in for routine visits. These visits are usually more frequent than six months apart, to ensure that we are maintaining your oral disease. It is important to keep up with your recommended maintenance schedule.
On certain occasions, if the disease is in its most advanced stages and the pockets do not heal after scaling and root planing, periodontal surgery may be needed to further treat. Dr. Nason may also recommend that you see a Periodontist (specialist of the gums and supporting bone).