Several decades ago, losing all of your teeth and wearing dentures was fairly typical.
Today, modern technology has allowed people to avoid this fate and keep their teeth for life. The primary reason older generations lost teeth was due to periodontal disease.
So exactly what is periodontal disease? It is a disease caused by bacteria that live in the mouth, resulting in deep infection in the gums and bone. The bone gradually dissolves with time, creating tooth loss and infection.
Nowadays, with proper maintenance at the dental office and good hygiene at home, periodontal disease can be managed. Depending on the severity of the disease and risks factors like a patient’s medical history, there are various types of treatment and management.
The First Stage - Gingivitis
Periodontal disease begins as gingivitis. Bacteria, mucus, and other particles form a sticky layer on the teeth called plaque. Regular brushing and flossing eliminates the plaque, but plaque that is not removed hardens and forms something called tartar. You cannot get rid of the tartar with brushing and flossing; it can only be eliminated with a professional cleaning by a dentist or hygienist.
The longer plaque and tartar stay on your teeth, the more harmful they are. The bacteria result in inflammation of the gums, otherwise known as gum disease, or gingivitis.
Gingivitis ranges in signs and symptoms. A common symptom of gingivitis is red, swollen, and bleeding gums, often seen when brushing and flossing. You may also notice bad breath that does not disappear no matter how much brushing or mouthwash rinses are done.
During your first visit at Prestige Dentistry, we will evaluate your gum health and take x-rays to identify inflammation and swelling of the gums. If you have gingivitis, it can usually be reversed with daily brushing and flossing and regular visits to the dental office.
Untreated gingivitis progresses to periodontal disease. With this disease, the plaque spreads and increases below the gum line.
The bacteria within plaque produce toxins that irritate the gums. This creates an inflammatory response where the body tries to fight the infection but essentially turns on itself. The reaction causes the body to break down and destroy the supporting connective tissue and bone. As a result, the gums separate from the teeth, forming spaces called pockets between the teeth and gums.
As the disease advances, the pockets become even deeper and more gum tissue and bone is destroyed. Initially, this disease does not show visible symptoms. Ultimately, teeth become loose due to bone destruction and may have to be extracted.
How to Treat Periodontal Disease
Removal of bacteria, plaque, and tartar is the first step in the treatment of periodontal disease. This procedure, known as scaling and root planing, is the mechanical removal of bacteria, plaque, and tartar above and below the gum level. This can be done at our dental office in Prairieville, LA during a hygiene visit.
We use ultrasonic and hand scalers for removal, and the area being cleaned is typically numbed for your comfort. At the end of your visit, we will go over proper home care to maintain clean teeth and prevent further progression of the disease.
Patients with periodontal disease are placed on more regular hygiene visits to treat and monitor the condition and also ensure that more destruction does not occur to the bone and gums with time.
Call to Get Your Gums Healthy Again
If you are noticing bothersome gums and loose teeth, give Prestige Dentistry a call today! Our Prairieville office will make sure to keep you comfortable and provide you with gentle treatment to get you back to health again.