Periodontal disease, otherwise known as gum disease is the chronic infection of the gums and bone around the teeth due to the bacteria from the plaque surrounding the teeth. The first sign of gum disease is gingivitis, in which the gums are inflamed and bleed easily while brushing.

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Periodontal Disease

Gingivitis is easily treated with regular cleaning and a good oral hygiene regime at home. If gingivitis is left untreated, it can advance to periodontal disease. There are many stages in periodontal disease ranging from mild, moderate to severe. However in each stage, the inflammation can cause the gums to pull away from the teeth, forming pockets that become infected. Over time, the supporting bone and connective tissue can be destroyed, leading to tooth loss. Having chronic periodontal disease can increase the risk of heart disease, heart attack , and stroke due to the bacteria from the affected areas in the gums traveling down into the blood stream and into the heart. 

Poor oral hygiene is the main contributor to periodontal disease, however other risk factors include smoking, certain medical conditions, and genetics. Therefore regular dental checkup and cleanings as well has good oral hygiene home care at home is important to prevent and manage periodontal disease.

Periodontal treatment-Scaling and Root Planing

The treatment of periodontal disease is dictated by the severity of each case, however normally the first step of treating periodontal disease is with deep cleanings, otherwise known as scaling and root planning. The purpose of scaling and root planing is to remove the source of the inflammation and infection that is causing the gum disease, and to create a smooth surface on the roots of the teeth to promote healthy reattachment of the gums. The procedure is usually performed under local anesthesia, and may be performed in one or multiple appointments, depending on the extent of the disease.

During a scaling and root planing, Dr. Eric or the hygienist will numb the area, and use ultrasonic scalers known as a cavitron to remove the plaque and tartar (calculus) from above and below the gumline. During the scaling and root planing process, the root surface irregularities will also be smoothed out to help prevent plaque and bacteria from accumulating as easily on the root surface.  A regular cleaning will not be able to adequately clean out the plaque and tartar within the deep pockets of the gums.

In addition to scaling and root planing, adjunct therapy such as antibiotic therapy or irrigation around the gum sulcus with a medicated chlorhexidine oral solution may be recommended to further reduce inflammation and promote healing of the gums.  In advance periodontal disease state, surgical intervention such as flap surgery or bone grafting may be required. In such cases, we will refer the patient to a specialist called a Periodontist for further treatment.

It’s important to note that treating periodontal disease requires a long-term commitment to maintaining good oral health. This includes regular dental check-ups and cleanings, adequate at home oral hygiene practices, and modifications to lifestyle habits that may be contributing to the disease. In some cases, the disease may not be fully curable, but proper treatment and maintenance can help manage the symptoms and prevent further damage and loss of teeth.