What is periodontal disease? Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums, which gradually destroys the bone support of your teeth. Dental plaque is a sticky, colorless film of bacteria that is constantly forming on your teeth and is the primary cause of gum disease. The bacteria in the dental plaque produce toxins which irritate and inflame the gums. If plaque is not removed from the tooth surface, it hardens into a substance known as tartar or calculus. As the disease progresses, the gum tissue loses its adherence to the teeth, forming pockets (spaces) which allows the accumulation of more plaque, making its removal more difficult.
The plaque and tartar will cause the gums to turn red, swell, and bleed which can eventually lead to bone loss. As periodontal diseases progress, the supporting gum tissue and bone that holds teeth in place deteriorate. If left untreated, this leads to tooth loss. Pain is not a common symptom of periodontal disease. Pain is usually not associated with periodontal disease.
- Bleeding gums after tooth brushing or eating hard food
- Persistent bad breath
- Swollen or tender gums
- Pus between your teeth and gums
- Changes in the spaces between your teeth
- Receding gums or teeth appearing longer than before
- Unexplained mouth sores
- Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
Periodontal Disease Treatment – Scaling and Root Planning
The initial stage of treatment is usually a thorough cleaning that may include scaling to remove plaque and tartar deposits beneath the gum line. The tooth roots may also be planed to smooth the root surface allowing the gum tissue to heal and reattach to the tooth.
Antibiotics or irrigation with anti-microbials (chemical agents or mouth rinses) may be recommended to help control the growth of bacteria that create toxins and cause periodontitis. In some cases, the dentist may place antibiotic fibers in the periodontal pockets after scaling and planing. This may be done to control infection and to encourage normal healing.
When deep pockets between teeth and gums are present, it is difficult for the dentist to thoroughly remove plaque and tartar. Patients can seldom, if ever, keep these pockets clean and free of plaque. Consequently, surgery may be needed to restore periodontal health.
The first step in the treatment of Periodontal Disease is a procedure called Scaling and Root planning which is essentially a “deep cleaning.” The purpose of Scaling and Root Planning is to scrape the plaque and other harmful deposits from the roots of the teeth. If the removal of the plaque and tartar from the roots of your teeth doesn’t resolve the cause of the gum disease, the next step of treatment is required which is surgical intervention.