What is Periodontics?
Periodontics is a branch of dentistry that treats conditions and diseases of the supporting structures of the teeth, especially the gums. This involves the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is a tissue infection in the areas that surround and support the teeth. In order to prevent periodontal disease, it is important to keep the gums and bone around the teeth healthy. As gum disease progresses, it becomes increasingly difficult and painful to treat. Eventually, periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss.
What Causes Periodontal Disease?
A majority of periodontal disease cases develop from a build-up of bacterial plaque over time. If patients do not properly remove the plaque it hardens and causes tartar to develop. Unfortunately, tartar cannot be removed through brushing alone. Then, the tissues and bone that support the teeth are gradually destroyed by this process. At your six month checkup, Dr. Hiebert or Dr. Smith can perform a thorough cleaning of the teeth and gums which can assist in controlling the spread of plaque and bacteria in the mouth.
symptoms of Gum Disease
During the initial stages of periodontal disease, it is common that patients will experience no noticeable symptoms. As periodontal disease progresses, patients can experience:
- Red, swollen, tender gums
- Bleeding gums
- Loose or separating teeth
- Pus in the gums
- Changes in the way the teeth fit together
Stages of Periodontal Disease
There are two stages of periodontal disease. The first stage is gingivitis. With gingivitis, most patients do not experience symptoms. However, when they start symptoms will likely be related to the gums. Gingivitis is a combination of plaque buildup and poor hygiene. During this stage, mild treatment methods can help to resolve the symptoms and prevent gingivitis from developing. Gingivitis can also develop as a side effect of drugs, infections, or poor nutrition.
The second, more severe stage, is periodontitis. If gingivitis is left untreated and plaque spreads below the gum line periodontitis can develop. The spreading plaque can create toxins that inflame and eventually destroy the gums and bone. In addition, pockets can form in the gums which are susceptible to frequent infections. Patients should see Dr. Hiebert and Dr. Smith at the onset of symptoms or if they suspect something is wrong. Early detection will likely prevent periodontitis from developing and the need for invasive treatment.
Periodontal Disease Treatment
At NW Heights Dental, Dr. Smith and Dr. Hiebert perform various procedures on the gums and surrounding tissue within the mouth to treat periodontal disease. These treatments may include:
- Scaling and root planing: A method of deep-cleaning that removes bacteria from below the tooth root and gum line
- Medication: If gum pockets have developed antibiotics or antimicrobial medications are used to fight infection and reduce the pocket size
- Flap surgery: After other treatment options have failed, patients may need flap surgery to lift away gum tissue so that it can be cleaned underneath
- Gum or bone grafts: These are other surgical options that help to regenerate any bone or gum tissue that was lost or damaged