If you have been told you have periodontal (gum) disease, you’re not alone. Many adults have some form of this disease. Periodontal diseases range from simple gum inflammation to serious disease that results in major damage to the soft tissue and bone that support the teeth. In the worst cases, teeth are lost.
The longer plaque and calculus are on teeth, the more detrimental they become. The bacteria cause inflammation of the gums, also known as “gingivitis”. In such case, the gums become red, swollen and bleed easily. Daily brushing and flossing and regular cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist can usually reverse gingivitis. There is no loss of the bone and tissue that hold teeth in place in this form of gum disease. When gingivitis is not treated, it can advance to “periodontitis”, which means “inflammation around the tooth”. In periodontitis, gums pull away from the teeth and form spaces (called “pockets”) that become infected. The body’s immune system fights the bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line. Bacterial toxins and the body’s natural response to infection start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place. If not treated, the bones, gums, and tissue that support the teeth are destroyed. The teeth may eventually become loose and have to be removed.
The main goal of the gum treatment is to control the infection. The number and types of treatment will vary, depending on the extent of the gum disease. Any type of treatment requires that the patient keep up good daily care at home.