What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease affects the gums and bone supporting the teeth. You may have it and not even know it. There are no early warning signs, except for occasional bleeding and redness around the gums when brushing, and mouth odor. However, as the disease progresses, the symptoms become more obvious. If left untreated, periodontal diseases can lead to loosening of teeth, receding gums, and gum discomfort.
What causes periodontal disease?
Bacteria are the primary cause of periodontal infection. Bacteria form in plaque, which is a sticky, almost invisible film that forms over the teeth and destroys bone. Plaque that is not removed by the regular brushing and flossing hardens into tartar over time. You cannot remove tartar (or calculus) on your own. The only way to remove tartar is by procedure called scaling, which is done by a dentist.
What are the stages of periodontal disease?
Stage 1. Gingivitis
In this early stage, your gums may look normal but they also may be red, puffy, and bleed easily when you brush your teeth. You also may notice some mouth odour. This is because bacteria in plaque have caused infection.
Stage 2. Early Periodontitis
Early periodontitis occurs when the bacterial infection spreads from the gum to the bone that supports the teeth. The bacteria then cause small spaces, or crevices, to form between the gums. These crevices are called pockets. They are deeper than normal spaces, which measure 1 to 3 mm deep. Bacteria in the pocket also can destroy some bone. As the pocket grows and the amount of bacteria increases, the gums recede down the root of the tooth, increasing the pocket depth. Our dentist measures how deep your pocket is with an instrument called a periodontal probe, which is placed in the gum crevices.
Stage 3. Moderate Periodontitis
When the gum has crept further down the root, it is called moderate periodontitis. In this stage, up to one-third of your bone has been lost.
Stage 4. Advanced Periodontitis
When half or more of the original bone holding the tooth has been lost, and pockets are very deep, it is called advanced periodontitis. The tooth may appear longer because the root is exposed, and the tooth may loosen and eventually fall out, or have to be removed by our dentist.
What you and your dentist can do to treat and prevent periodontitis
Periodontitis diseases may be prevented if you brush and floss every day to remove bacterial plaque and get regular dental checkups.
If you do have periodontal disease, our dentist or dental hygienist will remove the calculus above and below the gum. This procedure is called scaling. In moderate or severe periodontitis, it may be necessary to smooth the root surfaces of the teeth. This procedure, called root planning, removes residual calculus and bacterial by-products. Our dentist may also replace old crowns and fillings that no longer fit well because these trap bacteria and food that can cause severe periodontal problems.
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