What are Gingivitis and Periodontitis?
Gum disease is manifested in two forms:
- Gingivitis: The earliest stage of gum disease, causing an inflammation and some bleeding of the gums caused by plaque buildup at the gum-line. Gingivitis causes gum inflammation but no bone loss.
- Periodontitis: The second stage where the supporting bone and fibers that hold your teeth in place are damaged causing bone damage and loss.
The Progression of Gum Disease
Periodontitis is a common complaint affecting approximately 50% of U.S. adults over the age of 30 years. It occurs in people who have preexisting gingivitis which is itself caused by the accumulation of bacteria at the gum line (dental plaque). Your gums may begin to form a pocket below the gum-line, which traps food and plaque. If left untreated, plaque calcifies to form dental calculus. Dental calculus must be removed completely by the dentist in order to treat gingivitis and periodontitis. Proper dental treatment and improved home care can usually help prevent further damage. If left untreated, bone supporting your teeth can be destroyed, causing your teeth to shift or loosen.
Treatment of Gum Disease
During a comprehensive periodontal exam, we check the color, shape and consistency of your gums. We look for areas of inflammation, bleeding, or loss of the attachment between gums and teeth. We use a periodontal probe to check for early or advanced bone loss. We may x-ray the bone structure under your gums to check for deterioration caused by periodontal disease.
Next, we treat any existing disease by removing calculus (tartar) and plaque deposits from the depth of the pockets, polishing and smoothing root surfaces, and removing diseased gum tissue.
Prevention of Gum Disease
Daily oral hygiene is vital in preventing the onset and growth of gum disease. Brushing and flossing keep teeth free from plaque-generating bacteria. In addition it is important to visit the dentist regularly for professional cleanings and examinations.
We show you how to take care of your gums at home in order to minimize your risk of gum disease. We set up a program of continuing periodontal evaluation (or treatment, if necessary) that is tailored to your specific needs.
We give you the necessary means to accomplish periodontal health (quality toothbrush, toothpaste, glide floss, floss threaders and proxybrushes), and instruct you in their use.
Our ultimate goal is to assist you in establishing and maintaining a healthy mouth and smile.