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What Is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease is an infection that affects your gums and the bone structures that support your teeth. Researchers have discovered that several types of bacteria found in dental plaque can cause the infection. Dental plaque is a sticky film that can accumulate on your teeth without proper brushing and flossing. An accrual of plaque can negatively impact your gums and bone. Characteristics of periodontal disease include red, swollen, and bleeding gums. However, periodontal disease is usually painless in its nascent stages. Therefore, many people have the disease without knowing it. If untreated, it can destroy your connective tissue and jaw bone and ultimately cause tooth loss. Research has also suggested there may be links between periodontal disease and other ailments including heart disease, strokes, and diabetes. Belmont Dental Group can diagnose periodontal disease and partner with you to devise a treatment plan that will control the infection. 

Causes of Periodontal Disease

Your mouth is continually teeming with bacteria. These bacteria combine with mucus and other particles to form a colorless plaque that adheres to your teeth. The plaque begins to build up on your teeth and ultimately harden to become tartar. Your immune system’s reaction to the bacteria can deteriorate your gums, alveolar bone, and periodontal ligament. You can help minimize your risk for periodontal disease by maintaining good oral hygiene, not smoking, and eating a balanced diet.  



General Dentistry at Belmont Dental Group

Signs and Symptoms of Periodontal Disease:

The earliest stage of periodontal disease is gingivitis, which can cause red, swollen, or bleeding gums. Though gingivitis can be reversed, it can also progress into periodontitis if it is not treated. Signs and symptoms of increasingly severe periodontal disease include: 

  • Bleeding gums – Gums should never bleed, even when you brush vigorously or use dental floss.
  • Loose teeth – Also caused by bone loss or weakened periodontal fibers (fibers that support the tooth to the bone).
  • New spacing between teeth – Caused by bone loss.
  • Persistent bad breath – Caused by bacteria in the mouth.
  • Pus around the teeth and gums – Sign that there is an infection present.
  • Receding gums – Loss of gum around a tooth.
  • Red and puffy gums – Gums should never be red or swollen.
  • Tenderness or Discomfort – Plaque, calculus, and bacteria irritate the gums and teeth

What is Periodontal (Gum) Disease?

The term “periodontal”means “around the tooth.” Periodontal disease (also known as periodontitis and gum disease) is a common inflammatory condition which affects the supporting and surrounding soft tissues of the tooth; also the jawbone itself when in its most advanced stages.

Periodontal disease is most often preceded by gingivitis which is a bacterial infection of the gum tissue. A bacterial infection affects the gums when the toxins contained in plaque begin to irritate and inflame the gum tissues. Once this bacterial infection colonizes in the gum pockets between the teeth, it becomes much more difficult to remove and treat. Periodontal disease is a progressive condition that eventually leads to the destruction of the connective tissue and jawbone. If left untreated, it can lead to shifting teeth, loose teeth and eventually tooth loss. Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss among adults in the developed world and should always be promptly treated.

Types of Periodontal Disease

Without treatment, gingivitis can spread below your gum line. The resulting irritation can cause your body to attack itself. There may be no symptoms while periodontal disease causes your teeth to separate from the gum tissue. Increasingly deep pockets between your teeth and gums typically indicate that periodontal disease is destroying your soft tissue and bone. The most common forms of periodontal disease include: 

Here are some of the most common types of periodontal disease:

  • Chronic periodontitis  This most common form involves an inflammation within supporting tissues that causes deep pockets and gum recession. Though it appears your teeth are lengthening, you are experiencing receding gums. Progressive loss of gum attachment mixed with spurts of rapid progression characterizes this type of periodontal disease. 
  • Aggressive periodontitis – Occurring in otherwise healthy individuals, this form of the disease involves rapid loss of gum attachment as well as chronic bone destruction. 
  • Necrotizing periodontitis  This type of the disease usually arises in patients afflicted with systemic conditions such as immunosuppression, HIV, and malnutrition. Dying cells occur within the gingival tissues, periodontal ligament, and alveolar bone. 
  • Periodontitis caused by systemic disease – This kind of periodontal disease is known for beginning at an early age. Common cofactors include respiratory disease, heart disease, and diabetes.  

Periodontal Disease Treatment

Your Belmont Dental Group professional may choose to employ one of many surgical or non-surgical treatments for periodontal disease. A decision regarding which is best for you will depend on the condition of your teeth, gums, and bone. You will undergo a complete periodontal exam before receiving any treatments or recommendations. Among the common periodontal disease treatment options are: 

  • Receding gums treatment – Scaling and root planing removes the bacteria that initially caused your periodontal disease to preserve the health of your gum tissue. Your dentist will clean and treat your gum pockets with antibiotics when necessary to alleviate the infection. 
  • Periodontal surgery – A dentist may perform pocket elimination surgery, otherwise known as flap surgery, to reduce the size of pockets between your teeth and gums. Another option involves performing surgery on the jawbone to eliminate indentations that may foster the colonization of bacteria.
  • Scaling and root planing – In order to preserve the health of the gum tissue, the bacteria and calculus (tartar) which initially caused the infection, must be removed. The gum pockets will be cleaned and treated with antibiotics as necessary to help alleviate the infection. A prescription mouthwash may be incorporated into daily cleaning routines.
  • Tissue regeneration – Grafting procedures can be performed to regrow bone and gum tissues that have been destroyed. A membrane may be placed in the affected areas to aid the process. 
  • Dental implants  You may need to receive dental implants to restore the aesthetics and functionality of your mouth as a result of severe periodontal disease. As part of the process, you might also need to undergo tissue regeneration procedures to strengthen the bone that will support your implants.
  • Pocket elimination surgery – Pocket elimination surgery (also known as flap surgery) is a surgical treatment which can be performed to reduce the pocket size between the teeth and gums. Surgery on the jawbone is another option which serves to eliminate indentations in the bone which foster the colonization of bacteria.

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