What is Periodontal (Gum) Disease?
Periodontal disease is a common infection of the tissues which keep your teeth in place. The very name of the disease means ‘around the tooth’ explaining the area where the disease takes root. It starts small, but eventually it can lead to sore and bleeding gums, chewing issues, as well as tooth loss.
The disease typically forms from poor dental hygiene. People who don’t brush and floss their teeth well are likely to get bacteria on their teeth. The bacteria, or plaque, builds up and hardens, causing gingivitis. Gingivitis is the most common precursor to periodontal disease.
The problem here is that the bacteria that forms around the teeth takes stronger root over time, which is why periodontal disease is a progressive one. In the beginning, the plaque can be brushed off, but over time as it hardens, mere brushing can no longer clean it and you will have to visit a professional. If it’s left untreated, the disease can cause shifting and loose teeth, as well as tooth loss.
The Main Types of Periodontal Disease
As we already previously mentioned, gingivitis is the most common precursor to periodontal disease. It’s also one of the most common types of periodontal disease.
Besides gingivitis, there are four other types of periodontal disease you need to know about, as the issue is often hard to notice in the beginning.
1. Chronic Periodontitis
Chronic periodontitis is the most common form of gum disease. It’s usually recognized by an inflamed gum line. As the disease progresses, both the gum and bone tissue get destroyed.
You can also recognize the disease as the teeth seem to be growing in length, but they are actually changing because of gum recession.
Chronic periodontitis mostly affects adults above the age of 45. It’s vital to catch the disease early, as the existing damage cannot be fixed.
2. Aggressive Periodontitis
This form of periodontal disease is characterized by the rapid loss of gum tissue and bone. It’s essentially the same as chronic periodontitis, but the progression is much faster.
People who have a higher risk for this disease are smokers and those with family history of the illness.
3. Necrotizing Periodontitis
Necrotizing periodontitis is a very rare form of periodontal disease. It’s also fast evolving but it usually affects people with an immunosuppressing disease like AIDS. The rare phenomenon can also affect people who suffer from malnutrition or chronic stress, as well as those who smoke.
The name of the disease stems from the fact that it often leads to the death of gum tissue, periodontal ligament, and the alveolar bone which holds the teeth in place.
4. Periodontitis Caused by a Systemic Condition
The last type of periodontal disease is the one caused by a whole host of systemic conditions like diabetes, respiratory disease, or heart disease. This type of periodontal disease usually appears at a very early age and its characterized by the disease it stems from.
How to Treat Periodontal Disease
The treatment for periodontitis is always specific to the individual, depending on the exact condition of their gums, teeth, and the jawbone. It also depends on the type of the disease as well.
Your dental professional will always do a thorough exam before making any precise suggestions for treatment.
Treatment always involves controlling the infection, but there are still different methods of achieving this result. Here are the main methods that are likely to be a part of the treatment:
- Scaling – Removing the bacteria from tooth surface and beneath the gums using instruments, an ultrasonic device, or a laser.
- Root planning – Discouraging the further buildup of bacteria by smoothing the root surface and removing all bacterial byproducts.
- Antibiotics – topical or oral antibiotics are usually used.
- Tissue regeneration – even though the tissue is destroyed by the disease, grafts can encourage tissue regrowth. The method varies depending on the exact condition of the gums, teeth, and bones.
- Dental implants – when the teeth have already been lost from the disease, dental implants are used to restore the functionality and aesthetics of the mouth.
- Pocket reduction surgery (flap surgery) – Small incisions are made on the gums and more effective scaling or root planning can be performed.