Periodontal disease – also known as periodontitis or gum disease – is a progressive gum disease that deteriorates one’s supportive gum tissue and the jawbone underneath. If allowed to progress, periodontal disease can cause loose, unstable or lost teeth. It is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults in the developed world, but it can be halted with the implementation of appropriate dental treatments.
Periodontal disease is caused by toxins in plaque that infuse into the soft or gingival tissue in the gums. Once the bacterium is embedded into the gum, it rapidly proliferates and settles in deep, hard-to-reach pockets between the teeth and gums, causing inflammation. The body’s natural response to this irritation is to destroy the infected tissue, which causes the pockets to deepen and the gums to recede. If left untouched, the tissue that comprises of the jawbone also recedes, causing tooth instability and loss.
There are various types, stages and warning signs of periodontal disease. The earlier you recognize the warning signs of periodontal disease, the easier it is for your periodontist to halt its progression and save your gum tissue and bone from further damage. Here are a few of the common types of periodontal disease, as well as the treatments associated with each:
Gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontitis and a common precursor to more severe forms of periodontal disease. Gingivitis is caused by the toxins in plaque, and it is more susceptible to pregnant women, women taking birth control pills, steroid users, diabetics and people taking seizure or blood pressure medication.
Treatment: A regular routine of at-home care and professional cleaning can reverse the symptoms of gingivitis. Periodontists may perform root planning and deep scaling procedures to completely eliminate plaque from the deep pockets between the teeth and gums. He or she may also prescribe antibiotics or prescription mouthwashes to destroy any resilient bacteria and encourage proper healing of the pockets.
Chronic Periodontal Disease
Chronic periodontal disease is the most common form of gum disease, and it is more prevalent in adults 45 and older. This form of the disease is characterized by inflammation beneath the gum line and the progressive destruction of the gum and bone tissue, which can give the appearance of receding gums.
Treatment: Unlike gingivitis, chronic periodontal disease cannot be reversed because the supportive tissue is already lost and cannot be re-grown completely. Your dentist can, however, halt the progression of the disease through surgical and non-surgical treatments. Scaling and root planing procedures combined with antimicrobial treatments may be employed, as can pocket reduction surgery or tissue grafting to strengthen bone and oral cavity appearance.
Aggressive Periodontal Disease
The symptoms of aggressive periodontal disease are similar to that of chronic periodontal disease, except that its onset and progression is more rapid. This form of the disease causes swift loss of gum attachment and bone tissue, as well as familial aggregation. Smokers and individuals with a family history of the disease are more at risk of this disease.
Treatment: Because this form of gum disease is much more difficult to halt, individuals suffering from aggressive periodontal disease are more likely to require a surgical treatment. After a full examination of the patient’s teeth, gums and tissue, dentists will select from a combination of scaling, root planing, antimicrobial or laser procedure treatments to salvage existing tissue and bone.
Periodontal Disease Relating to Systemic Conditions
Sometimes, periodontal disease is a cofactor of another disease or health condition, such as diabetes, heart disease, and respiratory disease. When periodontal disease is a symptom of another bodily disease or medical condition, it often proliferates quickly and aggressively, destroying gum and bone tissue rapidly.
Treatment: The medical condition associated with the onset of the disease must first be controlled before a dentist uses treatments to halt its progression. The treatments available for periodontal disease related to systemic conditions are the same as those used for treating aggressive and chronic versions of the disease, including scaling, root planing, microbial treatments, laser procedures, pocket reduction surgery or tissue grafting.
Necrotizing Periodontal Disease
Necrotizing periodontal disease is rare, and it is most commonly associated with individuals suffering from HIV, immunosuppression, malnutrition or severe stress, as well as in those who smoke. This form of the disease is characterized by tissue death (necrosis) in the periodontal ligament, gingival tissues and alveolar bone.
Treatment: Necrotizing periodontal disease is treated by scaling, root planing, antibiotic pills, medicated mouthwash and fungicidal medicines; however dentists will typically consult with a physician before commencing any periodontal treatment.
To learn more about the different types of periodontal disease and the associated treatments, contact De Anza Dentistry today!