Periodontal disease is responsible for 85% of all losses of permanent teeth and afflicts as many as 9 out of 10 adults at some point in their lives. The course of periodontal disease (gum disease) occurs when pockets develop between the tooth and gum that allow bacteria to lodge and begin to erode the tissue. If the erosion continues, it will eventually break down the support structures of your teeth (gums and bone). Once the bone and gums have eroded, the teeth loosen and they must be removed. With proper care, however, the erosion process can be stopped, and the teeth can be preserved.
Treatment for gum disease is relatively simple. Instead of a regular cleaning, we will recommend you receive a deeper cleaning called Scaling and Root Planing. With this procedure, the dentist will numb the gums so that the hygienist can get to the bottom of the pockets that have developed to remove plaque and bacteria – thereby preventing further erosion of the bone and gums. While the frequency of regular cleanings is generally recommended every 6 months, periodontal maintenance includes cleanings every 3-4 months to prevent further erosion.
Bleeding with brushing and/or flossing, puffy, irritated gums, bad breath, and tooth shifting are all signs and symptoms of periodontal disease. If you are experiencing any of these it is recommended you visit your dentist as soon as possible. Remember the sooner you begin to clean the pockets between your teeth and gums, the less support structure you will lose. And we only get one set of teeth!
The deep cleanings only clean the pockets so that bacteria does not break down the support structures (gum and bone) around your teeth. Once pockets have developed, they will always be there. However, the pocket size (and therefore your risk of erosion) can diminish with regular cleanings. In addition, the recommended frequency of cleanings may also be reduced with proper, on-going care. Keep in mind though, that regular cleanings do not involve getting to the bottom of the pockets between the tooth and gums. You must receive scaling and root planing for the treatment to be effective.
There are many things that cause or contribute to gum disease, such as genetics, diabetes, poor oral hygiene, and having a weakened immune system. Early detection is critical. If it is left untreated it can cause tooth loss.