Periodontal disease is a chronic infection of the gums and bone that hold teeth in place. This disease begins when certain bacteria in plaque (the sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on the teeth and tissues int eh mouth) produce toxins and enzymes that irritate the gums. This initial stage of periodontal disease, gingivitis, causes inflammation if plaque is not removed daily and can destroy your gum and bone tissue. Any plaque that is not completely removed may harden into a deposit called tartar, or calculus. The only way to limit the disease-causing effects of tartar is to have your teeth cleaned regularly at the dental office.
Periodontitis will not go away by itself. Left untreated, surgery may be needed to save affected teeth. Preventing and treating the disease in the early stages are the best ways to keep our smile healthy.
Periodontal maintenance therapy is a deeper cleaning for patients who have pockets deeper than those found in periodontally healthy adults. Since patients receiving periodontal treatment often need more frequent maintenance visits than other patients, we may recommend treatment every three months, or even more often. As you progress and your gums start to heal, we may be able to make changes in appointment frequency. If gum tissue has already been lost from the root (gum recessions), a surgical gum graft may be necessary to cover the root and protect the tooth to reduce sensitivity.
Scaling and root planing is a method of treating periodontal disease when pockets are greater than 3mm. Using an instrument called a micro-ultrasonic scaler, plaque and tartar are carefully removed down tot he bottom of each periodontal pocket. The toothes root surfaces are then smoothed or planed. this procedure allows the gum tissue to heal. The procedure also makes it more difficult for plaque to accumulate along the root surfaces.
Periodontal Health Linked to Heart Disease
Some researchers suspect the bacteria and inflammation linked to periodontitis play a role in some systemic diseases or conditions. Likewise, diseases such as diabetes, blood cell disorders, HIV infections and AIDS can lower the body’s resistance to infection, making periodontal diseases more severe. Several studies linked chronic inflammation from periodontitis with development of cardiovascular problems. Some evidence suggests oral bacteria may be linked to heart disease, artery blockages and stroke. Likewise, pregnant women with periodontitis may be at increased risk for delivering pre-term and/or low-birth weight babies.