What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease attacks the gingiva (gums) and the supporting structures of the tooth. This often occurs due to an immunological response from your body against the accumulation of bacteria, plaque, and calculus against the tooth surface and gum. A sign of periodontal disease includes red, swollen bleeding gums. Early signs of periodontal disease often go unnoticed because it is usually painless. That is why at regular dental hygiene appointments the gums and bone are evaluated clinically and radiographically (with x-rays).
A thorough periodontal examination aids in diagnosing periodontal disease. A dental probe is used to measure pocketing around the tooth. Healthy pockets around teeth are typically less than 3 millimeters with no bleeding. Periodontal disease maybe occurring if there is an increase in pocketing, mobility, bleeding, and/or inflammation.
Depending on the type and severity of the disease, an appropriate course of therapy is indicated for periodontal disease. Early stages of disease can sometimes be reversed by routine cleaning and an improvement in home care. More advanced disease requires a more invasive approach requiring extensive cleaning below the gum line called scaling and root planing (deep cleaning). These cleaning appointments are longer and require specialized instruments to remove all debris underneath the gums.
An important part of slowing the progression of periodontal disease is a good maintenance regiment. Periodontal maintenance is performed every three months to help manage the removal of tartar and calculus above and below the gums. Any progression or improvement of the gums and tooth support is charted at this visit.