Periodontal simply means "the tissue around the teeth." Unfortunately, periodontal-related problems are often discovered after they have persisted for an extended period of time. Proper oral hygiene, daily dental care and regular dental checkups will minimize the risk of gum disease. Treatments are available for every case of gum disease.
Below are the 5 stages of gingivitis and periodontal disease:
Healthy teeth and gums are maintained by daily plaque removal from all surfaces of the tooth (through tooth brushing and interdental cleaning)
Healthy gums are characterized by the following features:
- pink or coral pink color (normal variations in color depend on race and complexion)
- firm, resilient tissues
- 'orange-peel' texture (known as stippling)
- shape that follows the contour of the teeth and forms a scalloped edge
- no areas of redness, swelling or inflammation
- no bleeding during daily plaque removal
- no discomfort
WHAT IS GINGIVITIS?
Gingivitis is inflammation of the gum tissue. The gums are irritated and swollen due to a plaque or calculus (tartar) buildup along the gumline. The gums may be sore, bleed easily and appear puffy, soft and swollen. No bone structure is lost around the teeth at this stage of gum disease. Blood on the toothbrush or dental floss is one of the earliest and most common signs of gingivitis. Your gums should never bleed while brushing or flossing. The good news about gingivitis is that it is preventable and reversible through good brushing and flossing techniques (or other interdental tooth cleansing). On the other hand, if oral hygiene habits are poor, gingivitis may progress to periodontitis.
WHAT IS PERIODONTAL DISEASE?
Periodontal disease is the destruction of bone and the structures supporting the teeth. Unfortunately periodontitis is irreversible, but you can stop its progression through good oral hygiene and faithfulness to your recommended intervals for maintenance by Dr. Lopez.
Eight Warning Signs of Periodontal Disease:
- gums that bleed when you brush or floss your teeth
- gums that are red, swollen or tender
- gums that have pulled away from teeth
- infection, including purulence (pus) between the teeth and gums when the gums are pressed
- permanent teeth that are loose or separating
- any changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- any changes in the fit of your partial denture
- bad breath
- itchy sensation
EARLY AND MODERATE PERIODONTITIS:
- Periodontitis occurs when the inflammation of the gums progresses into the deeper underlying structures and bone.
- In the most common form of periodontitis, plaque (and sometimes calculus) is found below the gumline.
- The gums may feel irritated, appear bright red and bleed easily.
- The ligaments holding the tooth in its socket break down and the gums pull away from the teeth, resulting in a periodontal pocket or space between the tooth and gum.
- The periodontal pocket deepens and fills with more bacteria. Supportive ligaments and bone start to show damage.
- Pocket depths around tooth are 4-6mm deep.
Calculus and plaque do not have to be evident to the naked eye for periodontal disease to be present. You need regular examinations performed by your hygienist and Dr. Lopez to assess your periodontal health and determine if periodontal disease is active in your mouth.
- When periodontitis progresses to the advanced stage, the gums severely recede (pull away from the tooth); pockets deepen and may be filled with pus.
- There may be swelling around the root and you may experience sensitivity to hot or cold or feel pain when brushing your teeth. This is due to the severely receding gums exposing the root surface.
- As bone loss increases, your teeth may lose so much support that they need to be removed to preserve the overall health of your mouth.
- Pocket depths around tooth are 6mm deep
Adult gum disease is usually not painful. It can progress slowly. You may not even be aware of it until the advanced stages, when the tooth is in danger of being lost. Check your gums thoroughly and regularly. It is also important to go for regular checkups (at an interval schedule determined by Dr. Lopez or your hygienist, based on your own personal needs). Your dental hygienist can detect the early stages of gum disease, when it is the easiest to treat.
Protecting your periodontal health brings many benefits. You can chew with more comfort. You can smile and speak with greater confidence. You can keep dental costs down by preventing further problems. A commitment to maintenance therapy is a commitment to better health.
Please contact our office for a periodontal evaluation.
Periodontal Maintenance Program
The #1 reason why people lose their teeth is undiagnosed periodontal disease. But we know that 90% of all adults have periodontal (gum) disease of various levels. The disease begins without warning, and in early stages causes gums to become sore, bleed easily and contribute to bad breath. As it progresses, teeth loosen and separate; your bite changes and teeth are eventually lost. For this reason, we incorporate a careful regimen of gum evaluation into each visit. Our goal is to diagnose the progression of this disease and offer an opportunity for you to minimize bone loss and preserve your smile for a lifetime through our Periodontal Maintenance Program (PMP). The PMP is designed to create a custom regimen for your condition that will include treatment at the office as well as specific home care. This program is highly effective in the treatment as well as the prevention of periodontal disease.
Periodontal Examination and Classification
We incorporate a thorough gum and periodontal evaluation into each visit. This includes:
- Pocket depth measurement of the space between your gums and teeth; smaller is better.
- Evaluation of bone loss.
- Determination of tooth mobility.
- Measurement of gum recession or overgrowth.
- Determine the amount of inflammation present.
This data is recorded into our computer charting system. At a glance, we can review data that shows the changes that have occurred between visits; maintained health, disease progression over time, and improvements in periodontal health as a result of treatment. One of the main benefits of the computer charting system is that it quickly and accurately gives us the information we need to tailor our treatment approach.
Below you will see a screenshot of this program.