What is Periodontal (Gum) Disease?
Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection of the supporting structures of the tooth (gums and underlying bone) that, if left untreated, can lead to tooth loss. In fact, periodontal disease is the #1 cause of tooth loss in adults.
In the initial form of the disease, “Gingivitis”, you can notice redness, swelling and bleeding. This condition is caused by poor oral hygiene and is usually reversible with good home care and professional cleanings.
If left untreated, Gingivitis can progress into “Periodontitis” where the underlying tissues and bone that holds teeth in place deteriorates. Pockets (separation of the gum from the tooth) and bone loss are the first signs of Periodontitis. The progressive loss of this bone can lead to loosening and subsequent loss of teeth.
Gum disease is the number one reason for tooth loss in adults. Research suggests that there may be a link between periodontal disease and other diseases such as, stroke, bacterial pneumonia, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and increased risk during pregnancy. Researchers are determining if inflammation and bacteria associated with periodontal disease affects these systemic diseases and conditions.
Periodontal disease doesn’t hurt, so there is going to be no pain associated with it. That’s why it makes it so hard to catch in early stages. Patients don’t realize that there is something wrong with their gums. But just like any other chronic disease, the earlier we catch it, the easier it is to treat it.
Symptoms and signs of Periodontitis
- Bleeding gums – Gums should never bleed, even when you floss or brush vigorously.
- Persistent bad breath (caused by bacteria in the mouth).
- “Long” teeth and receding gumlines.
- Red and puffy gums. Gums should never be red or swollen.
- Problems with food packing under the gums.
- Loose teeth – Also caused by bone loss or weakened periodontal fibers.
- Visibly heavy tartar buildup.
- Tenderness or Discomfort due to plaque and calculus build up and bacteria irritating the gums and teeth.
Treatment of Periodontal Disease
Our Board-Certified Periodontist, Dr. Natalia Ovcharenko offers traditional periodontal surgical services such as scaling and root planning (“deep cleaning”) and osseous surgery (surgical pocket therapy) , as well as modern laser treatments for gum disease (Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure, or LANAP). LANAP is a minimally-invasive, soft tissue laser technology that is a safe alternative to traditional surgery in many cases. You can read more about it here.