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Periodontics is the practice of addressing periodontal disease in dental patients. Also referred to as gum disease, periodontal disease is common and treatable. Gum disease must be treated early to avoid serious consequences such as tooth loss. Outside of the mouth, periodontal disease can contribute to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and increased risk of strokes. Gum disease is something that should never be ignored, if not treated it will continue to progress up to the point it causes loss of teeth and bone.


What is Periodontics?

The root cause of periodontal disease is inflammation caused by the build-up of plaque and tartar on teeth and especially at and below the gum line. The plaque is clear, making it virtually invisible and very difficult to detect at home with an untrained eye. Routine brushing and flossing is your frontline defense at home, but due to the highly sticky nature of plaque, it can not substitute for regular professional cleanings at your dentist. Brushes and floss are just not as effective as the dental tools used in professional cleaning. Plaque left on your teeth for too long turns into tartar, the yellowish hard calculus. Tartar results from the mineralizing dead bacteria found in plaque, mixed with the salts in saliva. A toothbrush is simply no match.

Now that we have established what periodontal disease is and how critical early detection and treatment can be, let’s look at the different stages and what each entails.

The First Stage

3 out of 4 adults have gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease.Your dental team will be able to spot the earliest signs of any periodontal issues and address them right away, possibly before you notice any signs. Symptoms of gingivitis are red, swollen gums that may bleed when brushing or flossing. Bleeding gums are never normal and usually indicate gum disease. If caught and adequately treated at this stage, gingivitis is reversible. Having a professional cleaning done and then maintaining good oral hygiene by brushing thoroughly at least twice a day along with daily flossing is critical. Keeping routine dental appointments at least every six months puts you in the best position to keep your natural teeth for a lifetime.


The Second Stage

The second stage of gum disease is early periodontitis. The signs of this stage are a buildup of tartar, which causes the damage to your oral health to accelerate. Bone structures anchoring the teeth to your jaw may begin to weaken. The dentist will measure gaps between your teeth and your gums. Gaps between 4-5mm are indicative of this stage of gum disease. A common treatment is a deep cleaning called scaling and root planing. Scaling removes all traces of tartar and bacteria from the tooth surface, including below the gum line. Root planing smooths the root surfaces and removes bacteria produced by inflammation, inhibiting the growth of further bacteria and encouraging healing. The dentist will go over how to best care for your teeth after scaling and root planing.This stage is not reversible, treatment goals are to stop the progression.

The Last Stage

Moderate periodontitis, or stage three, is a progression of stage two, with gaps between teeth and gums measuring 6-7mm. These gaps allow for the bacteria to move deeper into the bone structure. The infection can migrate to your blood steam, affecting your immune system as well. The preferred treatment for this stage is also scaling and root planing. Stage four, or the most advanced periodontitis, is very serious. The bacterial infection has become stronger and more aggressive. It has advanced deeper into bone tissue increasing the chances of bone loss to 50-90%. Symptoms of this stage of gum disease can include swollen, red gums that ooze pus, painful chewing, loose teeth, cold sensitivity, and severe bad breath. Untreated, gaps will occur between teeth, gums recede and tooth loss is likely. The treatment for this stage is periodontal surgery to access the deep pockets of bacteria that have formed below the surface of the gums.

Periodontal disease is common but not inevitable. It is also highly treatable, and even reversible, if intervention is early. The best defense is an offense.

Keeping your oral health in tip-top shape is a crucial element to your overall health as well. That’s where Dworkin Dental comes in as your partner in optimal health. Call our office today to schedule your appointment to get the best prevention and treatments for all of your dental needs.

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