Periodontal Disease is a common dental problem that is characterized by an infection of the gums, soft tissue and bone surrounding the teeth. It is progressive in nature and can range from simple inflammation to serious disease that results in damage to the soft tissue and bone supporting the teeth. If it is not detected and treated early, it can lead to very serious dental health issues, including tooth loss.
The earliest stage of gum disease is referred to as “Gingivitis.” With Gingivitis, the gums become red and swollen and/or bleed easily. This is caused by a buildup of harmful bacteria called “plaque” on the surface of the teeth. This mild form of gum disease can usually be reversed with daily flossing and brushing and visiting a dentist for a professional dental cleaning. Gingivitis does not involve any loss of the bone and tissue that support your teeth. However, it is really important to treat Gingivitis so it does not progress to Periodontitis.
Periodontitis is a more serious form of gum disease that causes the gums to pull away from the teeth and form spaces or pockets that become infected. As the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line, the body’s immune system fights this harmful bacteria. The body’s natural response to the infection will start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold the teeth into place. If Periodontitis is not properly treated in a timely manner, the teeth may become loose and have to be removed.
There are a variety of non-surgical treatments that can be used to treat periodontal disease including antimicrobial medications as well as scaling and root planing. Scaling and root planing involves a careful cleaning of the root surfaces to remove plaque and calculus [tartar] from deep periodontal pockets and to smooth the tooth root to remove bacterial toxins. Scaling and root planing is often followed by adjunctive therapy such as local delivery antimicrobials and host modulation, as needed on a case-by-case basis. In cases where periodontal disease has progressed to severe Periodontitis, surgery may be required. They key is to find and treat it early, so surgery can be avoided.
If you have swollen or red gums or gums that bleed easily, this could be a sign of periodontal disease. Schedule an appointment with your dentist so you can get it treated before it progresses to Periodontitis.
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