Causes & Diagnosis
Periodontal disease (gum disease) is an infection of the supporting tissues of the teeth, often caused by poor oral hygiene habits which allow plaque to build up on the teeth and harden. At Dr. Todd Jones Periodontics and Implant Dentistry, our periodontist provides diagnosis and treatment for all stages of gum disease.
What Is Periodontal Disease?
The disease begins when the toxins found in plaque attack the soft or gingival tissue surrounding the teeth. This bacterium embeds itself in the gum and breeds, causing a bacterial infection.
As the infection progresses, it starts to burrow deeper into the tissue causing inflammation between the teeth and gums. The body's response is to destroy the infected tissue, which is why the gums appear to recede.
The resulting pockets between the teeth deepen and if left untreated, and the tissue which makes up the jawbone recedes causing unstable teeth and tooth loss.
Stages of Periodontal Disease
Periodontal treatment methods depend upon the type and severity of the disease. Our periodontist can diagnose the type and severity of gum disease and recommend the most appropriate treatment for your smile.
The most common conditions treated by our periodontist are:
- Gingivitis/Mild Periodontal Disease
This is the mild inflammation of the gums which may or may not be signified by pain and bleeding.
When the gum pockets exceed 4mm in depth, the periodontist or hygienist may perform scaling and root planing to remove debris from the pockets and allow them to heal. Education and advice will be provided on an effective cleaning regime thereafter.
- Mild/Moderate Periodontitis
When the pockets between the teeth and the soft tissues are measured to be between 4-6mm it is classified as moderate periodontitis (gum disease).
If the gum pockets reach 4-6mm in length, a more extensive scaling and root planing cleaning might be required. This cleaning is usually performed under local anesthetic.
- Advanced Periodontitis
When the pockets between the teeth and the soft tissues in general exceed 6mm in depth, significant bone loss may occur; causing shifting or loss of teeth.
Gum pockets in excess of 6-7mm are usually accompanied by bone loss and gum recession. Scaling and root planing will always be performed as the initial nonsurgical treatment. In addition to nonsurgical treatments, the periodontist may recommend surgical treatment to reduce pocket depth.
- Missing Teeth
When teeth are missing as a result of bone loss, the periodontist can implant prosthetic teeth. These teeth are anchored to the jawbone and restore functionality to the mouth.
Where one or several teeth are missing due to periodontal disease, dental implants are an effective option. If the bone is strong enough to provide a suitable anchor for the prosthetic tooth, the implant can be placed. However, if the bone is severely eroded, bone grafts may be performed by the periodontist to provide a suitable anchor for the new tooth/teeth.
Causes of Periodontal Disease
Both genetic and environmental factors can be involved in the onset of periodontal disease. Some of the most common causes of periodontal disease include, poor dental hygiene, tobacco use, genetic predisposition, pregnancy, menopause, chronic stress, poor diet, diabetes, teeth grinding and medications.
Preventing Periodontal Disease
A thorough at-home hygiene routine including brushing twice daily and flossing, combined with regular visits to your dental hygienist for a deeper cleaning of those hard-to-reach places, are essential for controlling plaque and preventing periodontal disease.