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Photo General Dentistry

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, causes red, swollen gums and can mean the connective tissue and bone that hold teeth in place may be destroyed. Periodontal disease is the major cause of tooth loss.

Each tooth is embedded in the gum and attached by connective tissue to bone. Healthy gums are pale, pink, smooth and firm, and form a peak or cone between adjacent teeth. They surround your teeth like a turtleneck fits your neck, with just a narrow crevice in between. In this crevice is where problems begin because it is teeming with bacteria, which produce the sticky, soft, colorless substance known as plaque.

As plaque accumulates, bacteria release toxins that irritate the gums, triggering an immune response that causes gums to swell, turn red and bleed easily. Plaque can harden into tartar. The buildup of tartar worsens the condition, causing the gums to pull away from teeth. Deeper pockets may form. Bacteria invade these pockets and can infect and destroy the underlying connective tissue and bone, loosening the teeth.

Gingivitis

Gingivitis is a stage of periodontal disease in which the inflamed gums begin to pull back from the teeth. No damage is done to the connective tissue and bone. Ordinary gingivitis is the most common and least severe form. Gums are red, swollen and bleed easily. People with gingivitis may have persistent bad breath. This stage is easily treated.

Periodontitis

Gingivitis may lead to periodontitis, which involves deep pockets between gums and teeth. In severe cases, the connective tissue and bone are damaged. The most common type is adult periodontitis and may start as early as the teen years, but symptoms usually don't become noticeable until the mid-30s or later. Children also can get periodontitis. More than 50 percent of adults have gingivitis and 30 percent have periodontitis. Periodontal disease may contribute to heart disease, increase the risk of premature births and worsen the condition of people with stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis and respiratory infections. Research reveals that periodontal disease may be a far more serious threat to your health than realized.

Prognosis

Not brushing and flossing or getting regular professional cleanings encourage plaque and tartar formation. Even after you've developed gum disease, you can stop its progression and reverse its symptoms by seeing us on a regular basis and practicing good oral hygiene. By quitting smoking you can also decrease your risk of developing periodontal disease.

Please answer the questions below to get a better understanding of your gum health:

  • Do your gums bleed when you brush or floss your teeth?
  • Are your gums red, swollen or tender?
  • Do you have sores in your mouth?
  • Are your gums receding? Have they pulled away from your teeth?
  • Do your teeth appear longer than they have in the past?
  • Are there spaces developing between your teeth?
  • Do you suffer from bad breath?
  • Do you have a constant bad taste in your mouth?
  • Are your teeth more sensitive than usual?
  • Are any of your teeth loose?
  • Is there any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above questions, we recommend that you visit us as soon as possible for a thorough Periodontal examination.

Our patients with active Periodontal Disease are placed into our program of non-surgical Periodontal Therapies. Pocket measurements are done at each visit, and the condition of the gum tissue itself is assessed. Ultrasonic instrumentation, hand instrumentation, and use of antibacterial medications are used at each visit.

Six weeks after completion of therapy, each pocket is remeasured. If all pockets are 4 millimetres or less, the patient will return to maintenance at intervals that are appropriate. In the small percentage of patients that do not respond to the therapy available in our program, a referral to our Periodontist is then indicated.

This closely monitored program has been a key to success in the Periodontal care of many of our patients

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