There are two classifications of periodontal diseases based on the severity of the disease: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is a gum infection caused by bacteria and plaque, it affects only the gums and is reversible. Gingivitis, however, may lead to more serious harmful forms of periodontal disease called periodontitis. Periodontitis is one of the main contributors to premature tooth loss.
You may have periodontal disease and have none of these symptoms. This is where regular dental checkups, your dentist and hygienist play a pivotal role in diagnosis and prevention. Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums and supporting bone as a result of high levels of bacteria that start a release of tissue-destroying enzymes. There is a part of your gum that is actually not attached to your teeth. It is a shallow v-shaped crevice between the tooth and gum and is called a sulcus. Gum disease attacks the area within the sulcus just below the gum line. The disease causes a breakdown of the attachment of the tooth and its supporting tissues. As the disease progresses the tissues are damaged and the sulcus now becomes a pocket. Typically, the more severe the disease or infection, the greater the pocket depth. Treatment is aimed at stopping further damage and reversing the progression of the disease.
To help further educate our patients on the topic of gum disease, we’ve provided the articles below.
Are Your Gums Healthy? What is Gum Disease?
Are your gums in a healthy state or are you suffering from gum disease? This is something that you need to know the answer to, but probably don’t. However, the CDC reports that 47% of adults in the US suffer from gum disease, making it one of the most common oral health problems in the US.
Unless you have been diagnosed by your dentist, you probably don’t know if you are suffering from some form of gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) or not. The reason for this, is that periodontal disease does not present many signs or symptoms. The few you can look for include unexplained bleeding while brushing or flossing, and your gums appearing bright red and inflamed.
If you notice either of the above signs, you should schedule a dental appointment ASAP. Your dentist’s office will have specialized tools to determine the health of your gums. Additionally, these tools will determine how far your gum disease has developed and what treatment is necessary. The earlier you catch gum disease, the better off you will be, as, if you let gum disease develop too far, it will not be able to be fully cured. Your dentist will be able to put together a personalized treatment plan to improve the overall health and wellness of your gums. Please note that a treatment plan may include the work of a periodontist.
Determining if you have periodontal disease, and receiving necessary treatment, is critical for your oral health. Along with this, gum disease has been associated with many other diseases including:
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
As with any health issues, you are better off preventing periodontal disease from ever forming. Gum disease can be usually avoided by following instructions below:
- Brush twice per day for two minutes
- Floss daily
- Brush your tongue, roof of your mouth, and gums
- Use mouthwash
If gum disease does develop, there is treatment available, such as scaling and root planing, also known as a deep cleaning.
What is the Difference Between Gingivitis and Advanced Periodontitis?
Although gingivitis and advanced periodontitis both affect your gums, they are two different health issues.
Your teeth are held in position by a number of things including bone tissue, ligaments, and your gums. If you do not properly care for your teeth, plaque can begin to form around your gums. Your gums begin to retreat and create “pockets.” These pockets allow for more bacteria to build up. This is gingivitis.
There are different severities of gingivitis, which is tested by measuring the deepness of the pockets around your teeth. You generally want pockets that are 1-3mm deep. Your pockets will be deeper if you have an infection.
Gingivitis, if left untreated, can form advanced periodontitis. Advanced periodontitis occurs when plaque and tartar infect your gums and begin to deteriorate the soft tissue that supports your teeth. If you do not treat advanced periodontitis, it can begin affecting the bone of your tooth. When this happens, the tooth is at risk of needing an extraction.
For minor plaque buildup, Dr. Aerni will be able to clean away the bacteria before it advances. If you are in a more advanced stage, a procedure called “scaling and root planing” will be done to clean around the gums and below your gums to remove tartar.
A Deep Cleaning - What is Scaling and Root Planing?
If you have developed gum disease—whether you have been properly caring for your teeth, or neglecting them—there is treatment available. How far your gum disease has advanced will determine what type of treatment your case demands. The most common form of treatment for gum disease is a deep cleaning. This type of cleaning will be necessary if you develop gum disease, as your regular cleanings will no longer properly clean your teeth and gum line.
Deep cleanings utilize special tools and techniques and include two steps: scaling and root planing.
The first step, scaling, removes tartar and plaque from the surface of your tooth and beneath your gum line.
The second step, root planing, is a process of carefully smoothing the surface of your tooth’s root to decrease inflammation, and shrink the pockets that have formed in your gums. If these pockets are left untreated, they will continue to allow plaque and tartar to build up under your gums and on your gum line.
Typically, a deep cleaning will require 2-4 visits to your dentist, and also may involve a local anesthetic during treatment.
Unfortunately, if your gum disease has developed too far, it cannot be fully cured, only treated. Gum disease is a systemic disease, very similar to diabetes or high blood pressure (HBP). After you have received a deep cleaning, it is important to continue treatment and schedule routine cleanings at Aerni Dental. If you do not receive routine cleanings, gum disease can cause tooth loss, loss of jaw bone, and lead to many other health problems.