Topping the list of the most common oral health problems among many patients would be gum and periodontal diseases. Periodontal diseases are the infections and inflammation of the gums that lead to the damage of your soft tissues as well as the bone structures of your teeth. These conditions eventually lead to tooth loss. Periodontics is referred to as the study that focuses on the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of these gum problems.
Gum diseases can range from as mild as gingivitis (the early stage of gum disease) to as serious as periodontitis. Gum or periodontal diseases are caused by the spread of the bacteria in your mouth which came from the buildup of plaque that is not addressed by brushing and flossing. These bacteria can go down to the roots of your teeth and eventually irritate and destroy the soft tissues inside your mouth and as well as your bone structure that provides support for your teeth.
It is important to pay close attention to these gum disease because it can increase your risk of certain oral health conditions and some of them are the following:
- Heart disease and atherosclerosis
- Premature birth and low birth weight
- Lung and respiratory diseases
If a gum problem that starts as a gingivitis is not cured, it can progress to an advanced stage of gum disease which is called periodontitis. Periodontitis is the inflammation of the gums around the tooth that cause the gum recession. Gum recession or the pulling away of the gum from the teeth happens when pockets or spaces are formed due to the spread of the bacteria. Gum recession can also lead to tooth loss, which is why you should not be waiting for these things to happen.
Treatments like dental scaling and root planing are the solution for periodontal diseases.
- Dental scaling involves an ultrasonic scaling device that removes tartar (calculus), plaque, and biofilm from the tooth's surface and underneath the gum line.
- Root planing is a detailed scaling of the root surface to decrease inflammation of the gum tissue. The dentist scales the root surface to smooth out rough target areas, eliminating plaque and biofilm development.
Dentist may suggest other periodontal treatments like :
Dental crown lengthening: Crown lengthening is done when a tooth needs to be fixed. Sometimes, not enough of the tooth sticks out above the gum to support a filling or crown.
Root surface debridement: the root surface is cleaned in a process called root debridement. This helps removes any remaining calculus or ‘contaminated’ cementum on the root, and leaves the surface less susceptible to the bacteria. Scaling and root debridement can be done in just one area of your mouth if the disease is just localized.
After treatment, what is next?
The aim of periodontal treatments is to cure gum disease. To achieve this goal, the following are important:
- Floss regularly
- Keep your teeth thoroughly clean with soft toothbrushes and dental floss (you may need ‘interdental’ brushes – they are tiny brushes that look like Christmas trees)
- Attend for regular checkups and maintenance programs, including regular scaling and polishing
- Root debridement may have to occur every three months in some cases, to keep the gum disease under control.