What is periodontal disease?
The word periodontal means “around the tooth,” or to be technical, the gum, so periodontal disease is a problem with the gums and the bones that support the teeth.
What happens when plaque and calculus remain on the teeth for long periods of time? They begin to destroy the gums and the bone underneath. As a result, periodontal disease is diagnosed when patients some in with red, bleeding or swollen gums.
How common is periodontal disease?
According to recent statistics, four out of five people have some form of periodontal disease and don’t even know it. That’s because in its early stages this disease is virtually painless. But don’t let this sneaky disease fool you; it is also the number one cause of tooth loss. Many health professionals also believe there is a strong connection between gum disease and diabetes, bacterial pneumonia, cardiovascular disease and other systemic conditions. Smoking can also increase the risk of periodontal disease.
What can you do to prevent periodontal disease?
The best advice any dentist can give you is to maintain good oral hygiene habits – consistently – and eat a balanced diet. Of course, regular visits to your Colorado Springs dentist will greatly reduce the risk of gum disease, as well as reduce its severity once diagnosed.
How is periodontal disease diagnosed?
Periodontal disease is diagnosed by Dr. Tara Pool or our dental hygienist during a periodontal examination. This type of exam should always be a part of your regular check-up. The primary method of doing this is by measuring pocket depths and observing bleeding, tooth mobility and inflammation.
Based on these findings, the dentist will classify a patient’s diagnosis into one of the following categories:
Gingivitis – this is the first stage of periodontal disease, where patients complain about gum irritation. Gums that are tender, inflamed or likely to bleed are affected by plaque eon the teeth and its toxic byproducts.
Periodontitis - When plaque hardens into tartar, or calculus, it can cause the gums to recede from the teeth. This is when deep pockets begin to form between the teeth and gums, which often become filled with bacteria and pus. At this stage of the disease, the gums become very irritated and inflamed, bleeding easily. Slight bone loss may also be present in early periodontitis.
Advanced Periodontitis - As the gums, bone and periodontal ligaments continue to deteriorate, the teeth lose proper support. Unless treated immediately, the affected teeth will likely become loose enough to fall out. At this stage of periodontitis, moderate to severe bone loss may be present.
How is periodontal disease treated?
As a full service Colorado Springs dental practice, Dr. Tara Pool handles most periodontal treatments right in the office, without the need for a specialist. One of the most common early-stage treatments for gum disease is called Quadrant Scaling.
After examining your condition, Dr. Pool and our dental hygienist will recommend the appropriate course of treatment. If the pockets caused by periodontitis don’t heal after scaling and root planing, periodontal surgery may be the only way to reduce pocket depths, making teeth easier to clean. In this case, the dentist will recommend that you see a periodontist, a dentist that specializes in the gums and supporting bone.
Daily home cleaning helps control plaque and tartar formation, but those hard to reach areas will always need special attention. Once your periodontal treatment has been completed, your dentist and dental hygienist will recommend that you have regular maintenance cleanings (periodontal cleanings), usually four times a year.
At these cleaning appointments, Dr. Pool and the hygienist will carefully check the pocket depths to ensure that they are at a healthy level. Plaque that is difficult for you to reach will be removed from above and below the gum line.