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Periodontal Gum Disease

What is Periodontal Gum Disease?

Periodontal disease, or periodontitis, is commonly referred to as "gum disease" but can more accurately be viewed as a process, one that affects the majority of adults and is the leading cause of tooth loss. This painless process is most commonly the result of the accumulation of harmful plaque bacteria under the gums, resulting in the destruction of the very bone that supports the teeth in your mouth.

The earliest signs of periodontal disease are inflamed gums, which bleed when flossing, and is referred to as gingivitis. When gingivitis is left untreated and bacteria levels are not properly addressed, it will progress into periodontitis. The bacteria and inflammation which predominate with periodontitis have been linked to heart disease and strokes, preterm low birth weight, and poorly controlled blood sugar in diabetic patients.

Periodontal Therapy is accomplished by removing the plaque and tartar through a deep-cleaning method known as scaling and root planing. Scaling means scraping off the tartar from above and below the gum line. Root planing eliminates rough spots on the tooth root where bacteria gather, and promotes re-attachment of the gums to the tooth root where there was once bone. Adjunctive medications may be recommended to help reduce the bacterial load below the gums (subgingivally) including mouth rinses, painless laser periodontal therapy and localized antibiotics (this infection, after all, is caused by bacteria). Because it is impossible to regenerate the bone lost in this process, the goal in treatment is to maintain it and prevent future bone and tooth loss. Following a diagnosis of periodontal disease our standard recommendation is that patients have more regular "periodontal maintenance" every three to four months.