Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is caused when bacteria in plaque builds up between the gums and teeth and later forms calculus “tartar”. When the bacteria and calculus begin to grow, the gums surrounding the tooth can become inflamed. If left untreated, this inflammation can cause the gums and supporting bone structure to deteriorate. As the disease progresses, gums separate from the teeth forming pockets that become infected which can lead to tooth mobility and later tooth loss.
Another cause of bone loss can also occur when there are unbalanced traumatic forces on teeth. The trauma may be a result of poor alignment of your teeth or excessive and abnormal grinding.
The diagram below illustrates the different stages of bone loss. The measuring device used by us is a probe that measures the amount of bone lost which we refer to as pockets. These measurements help us determine the severity of bone loss/ pockets and the ensuing treatment required. If no treatment is applied, more bone may be lost and a vicious cycle begins. As more bone is lost the harder it is to control the disease and keep the pocket clean. This can lead to even more bone loss, more tooth mobility and then eventually lead to tooth loss.
Most people are unaware they have this problem until it is too late as it is a silent and painless disease. This is why it is important to identify this problem early on as the probability of success is much better. Again that is why we also highly recommend regular dental cleanings and check ups as it is at these visits that 1) we help diagnose the gum disease and 2) we implement treatment methods to help stop and control this disease such as scaling and root planing and detailed home care.
Scaling and root planing is a careful cleaning of the root surfaces to remove plaque and calculus (tartar) from deep periodontal pockets and to smooth the root surface to remove bacterial toxins. We measure the pockets ( I.e. bone loss) before the procedure and 6-8 weeks after to evaluate if the treatment worked.
If scaling and root planing is not successful, then at this point we refer you to a specialist that may resort to surgical procedures to help control this problem in order to save your teeth.
Gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontal disease. It causes the gums to become red, swollen, and bleed easily. Gingivitis is often caused by poor oral hygiene. Gingivitis is reversible with professional treatment (I.e. dental cleanings) and good oral hygiene routine. If left untreated, gingivitis can advance to periodontitis.