What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease affects the gums, bone and other supporting tissues of the teeth. Although up to 90% of individuals suffer gum inflammation from time to time, around 10% of the population appear to suffer from more severe forms of the disease which cause loss of supporting bone. This group appears to be at greatest risk of losing teeth through periodontal disease. It is caused by the bacteria which regularly collect on the teeth.
Around 10% of the population is susceptible to developing the severe forms of periodontal conditions. There are three major factors thought to be responsible. Family history, stress and smoking are all important risk factors. Stopping smoking is an important part of reducing the risk of developing the disease. Certain general diseases such as diabetes may also make an individual more susceptible.
The signs and symptoms of periodontal disease are extremely variable but may include gums that bleed on brushing together with signs of more advanced disease such as mobility or drifting of teeth. Patients may also suffer from halitosis (bad breath). it is possible, however to have the disease and not be aware of these signs. It is essential to attend a general dental practitioner regularly so that special assessment techniques, sometimes including x-rays, can be carried out as part of your routine dental examinations.
Regular dental examinations by a general dental practitioner will ensure that a correct diagnosis is made. The dentist will then be able to advise you on any necessary treatment. This will often include instruction in specific oral hygiene methods to help you control the bacteria that collect on your teeth. There may also be a need to carry out some professional cleaning of your teeth. Most cases of periodontal disease can be successfully treated by your dentist by using methods such as these. Occasionally, more complex treatments are required and your dentist will advise you accordingly.
The main cause of periodontal disease is bacteria in the
form of a sticky colourless plaque that constantly forms on your teeth; however, many other factors can cause periodontal disease or influence its progression.
Periodontal health should be achieved in the least invasive and most cost-effective manner. This is often accomplished through non-surgical periodontal treatment which includes meticulous oral hygiene measures, debridement and root planing (a careful cleaning of the root surfaces to remove plaque and calculus from deep periodontal pockets and to smooth the tooth root to remove bacterial toxins), with adjunctive therapy such as local delivery of antimicrobials or use of the Waterlase MD.
In a majority of cases, patients having undergone a course of non-surgical initial periodontal treatment do not require further active treatment. However, the patients normally require ongoing maintenance therapy to sustain health. Non-surgical therapy does have its limitations however, and when it does not achieve periodontal health, periodontal surgery may be indicated to restore periodontal anatomy damaged by periodontal diseases and to facilitate oral hygiene practices.
If you are diagnosed with periodontal disease, the periodontist may recommend periodontal surgery. Periodontal surgery is necessary when the periodontist determines that the tissue around your teeth is unhealthy and cannot be repaired with non-surgical treatment alone. The main four types of periodontal surgical treatments prescribed are:
Pocket Reduction Surgery
Soft Tissue Grafts