Periodontitis is the most common form of periodontal disease, affecting approximately 75% of Americans over 35 years of age. This disease affects both sexes equally and is caused by inflammation and infection of the gums, defined by bone loss around the teeth. Signs may occur as early as adolescence, but due to its progressive, cumulative nature, the disease is often not diagnosed until the fourth to fifth decade of life. Proper oral hygiene is very important during the entire treatment procedure. If detected early, periodontal diseases can be easily controlled by maintaining good oral hygiene and by visiting Roth Family Dentistry at least twice a year.
Periodontal disease is a disease that affects the gum tissues. It affects the alveolar bone, periodontal ligament, cementum, and the gumline. Periodontal diseases are classified in two categories: gingivitis and periodontitis. If left unchecked or untreated, the infection can spread to the bone and destroy tissues. In such cases, the teeth will have to be extracted.
What Causes Periodontitis?
Periodontitis is caused by the formation of plaque on the teeth. Over time, the plaque hardens and turns into calculus (tartar) that cannot be removed by brushing and flossing. Bacteria that live within the plaque and calculus infect the gums. At this point, the disease is termed gingivitis, which is an infection of the gums. However, if the plaque and calculus remain on a susceptible individual’s teeth, the disease progresses and becomes periodontitis, which refers to an infection around the tooth.
Certain plaque bacteria produce toxins that erode the bone. As the bone erodes, the gum tissue follows it, and deep pockets form between the teeth and the gums. These bacteria also enter the bloodstream, where they can spread to other parts of the body.
Hormones may also play a role in the progression of periodontitis, especially in pregnant women. Medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, have been proven to play contributing roles to periodontal disease.
If you are experiencing symptoms of periodontitis, you should contact our professionals for a check-up. Our dental professionals will ask you questions related to your family’s medical history and symptoms. Then, an oral examination of your teeth, gums, and supporting bones will take place. During this exam, our professionals will measure the depth of the pockets in the gums. X-rays will be taken to check for bone loss.
Unlike gingivitis, which usually can be eliminated by good oral hygiene and professional cleaning, periodontitis may require repeat visits to our professionals. Brushing and flossing can only clean 1-3 millimeters below the gumline and periodontal pockets are 4-10 millimeters below. Therefore, when deep pockets are present, deeper cleaning is necessary. This treatment is called scaling. Scaling is when our dental team thoroughly removes plaque and calculus below the gumline and primes the root for the gums’ attachment. It is similar to regular cleaning, but is more meticulous and goes further below the gumline. For this reason, local anesthetic may be given to numb the gums.
Our professionals should check the area four to six weeks after the deep cleaning to check the healing. If there are any remaining pockets deeper than 5 millimeters, surgery is usually recommended. In most cases, open flap surgery is the procedure used. It involves surgically accessing the tooth below the gumline, thoroughly cleaning the teeth, and if needed, correcting bone defects that were caused by the infection. This may or may not include the placement of bone graft material. Sutures will be used to hold the gum tissue in place while it heals. Immediately after surgery, chlorhexidine mouth rinse is used as a temporary replacement for brushing and flossing.
Maintenance and proper oral hygiene is an essential part of the treatment procedure. This is called periodontal maintenance. It is also essential to visit our professionals once every three months for reevaluation. Regular cleanings are also required to prevent the bacteria from repopulating the tissues. If the infection is detected in the initial stages, the treatment options are much more successful. For this reason, it is recommended to visit our professionals often after periodontal treatment. Please call Roth Family Dentistry at 406-728-2745 today.