A Progressive Approach

Periodontal disease is an infection caused by bacterial plaque, a sticky, almost invisible film that forms 24 hours a day on our teeth. If not removed thoroughly by careful brushing and flossing, it will calcify onto the tooth surface, forming hard deposits similar to the barnacles growing on the hull of a ship.

These hardened bacterial plaque deposits are called calculus or tartar, which can form on tooth surfaces within days. They can only be removed with special instruments during professional cleanings. The toxins released from the bacterial plaque and tartar will eventually result in gum inflammation, bone destruction, and ultimately tooth loss.

Signs of Gum Disease

There are many signs of gum disease including any of the following:

  • Persistent bad breath
  • A change in the fit of partial dentures
  • Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
  • Pus between the teeth and gums
  • Loose or separating teeth
  • Bleeding gums during tooth brushing
  • Red, swollen or tender gums
Gum disease can also be present without any of the above signs being evident. Most people do not experience any pain due to gum disease and therefore it can go unnoticed. Do not wait until it hurts. Only through regular dental check-ups that include a periodontal examination can you protect the health of your teeth.

Evaluating Your Gum Health

During your dental office visit, the dentist or hygienist checks for the presence of periodontal disease through the use of a small measuring instrument called a periodontal probe, which is gently inserted between the tooth and gum tissue. When the gums are healthy, the gum crevice measures between 1-3 millimeters, with gum tissues fitting snugly around each tooth. Healthy gums do not bleed or hurt during brushing or flossing.

If probing measurements have deepened to 4-5 mm, the periodontal fibers have been damaged. The pockets formed in the gums allows the accumulation of even more bacterial plaque and tartar which continues to irritate the gum tissue by releasing toxins, thus causing further inflammation of gum tissue and bleeding. Once the periodontal fibers have been destroyed, the adjacent bone will be attacked -- resulting in bone destruction and loss of tooth support.

The Need to Remove Plaque

If plaque is not removed each day, it accumulates and hardens into calculus. The gums may become puffy and red. There may be no discomfort at this stage but there is danger. If not treated, the resulting inflammation could destroy the periodontal fibers that hold the gums tightly against the tooth.

At this stage, scaling and root planing to remove calculus deposits from tooth surfaces above and below the gum line and smoothing the root surfaces, can arrest the progression of gum disease. However permanent damage has taken place and it is unlikely that the gums and bone will be restored to their previous condition.

The goal of our periodontal maintenance program is to keep periodontal disease from progressing to advanced stages. When gum pockets reach 6 mm or more, surgery may become necessary.

Even in advanced periodontitis, the gum tissue often looks as if everything is normal. Sometimes this causes patients to think that all is well. But in the depths of the gum pockets, periodontal infection continues to destroy the supporting structures of the teeth. If gum disease continues to progress undiagnosed and untreated, this could lead to further inflammation and infection of gum tissue, tooth decay above and below the gum line, deterioration of bone surrounding the teeth and eventually, the loss of teeth.

Treating and preventing gum disease brings great health benefits. By retaining your natural teeth, you can chew more comfortably and enjoy better digestion. You will keep your healthy smile, a natural asset to your appearance. Remember to brush, floss, and eat a balanced diet.

What are the Stages of Periodontal Gum Health?

  • Gingival health
  • Gingivitis
  • Slight periodontitis
  • Moderate periodontitis
  • Advanced periodontitis

Periodontal disease can be stopped in its tracks - with your cooperation. Although there are various stages of periodontal disease, our dental team can help design a treatment and maintenance program that can effectively meet your needs.


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