Periodontal (gum) disease is insidious. It is an infection of the gums that starts out as plaque, an opaque film on the teeth that hardens to form tartar. As tartar accumulates, it harbors bacteria that attack the soft tissue around the gums. This is the early stage of gum disease known as Gingivitis. Left untreated, Gingivitis becomes Periodontitis which ultimately destroys the tissue surrounding your teeth AND the bone that holds your teeth in place. Except for bad breath and gums that bleed, there are very few early warning signals. The disease advances silently, often without pain, and before you know it, you are losing your teeth and you don't know why.
Tooth loss is only the most obvious indicator of gum disease. Scientific research has discovered linkage between gum disease and stroke, heart disease, diabetes - even an increased risk for pregnant women. When your gums become diseased, your entire immune system is weakened.
In the past, fear of painful dental surgery has kept people with gum disease from seeking the care they needed. Well, those days are gone forever.
The American Dental Association says three out of four Americans have some degree of periodontal disease in their lifetime.
Gum disease (periodontal disease) does not hurt. That’s the major problem. Gum disease is an infestation of bad-bacteria below the gum line, which cannot easily be removed. This causes attachment loss and bone loss. Most people are worried about gum-recession, when the problem is attachment recession. The first misconception is that your gums are attached to your teeth where you see them. The attachment is actually several millimeters below where you see your gums on your tooth. The hygienist / dentist will take an instrument and slide it along the root-surface of your tooth. When he or she feels resistance, this is the attachment level. The instrument is now below the gums, and a measurement can be made. Anything more than three millimeters is considered periodontal disease. Your gums do not have to recede to get gum-disease. It is the attachment level that we are interested in. This creates a pocket or an un-cleansable area which now harbors bacteria. If these bad-bacteria produce toxin, the body’s response is to pull back, this causes more problems. So as this pocket gets larger, inflammation of the gum tissue increases, this often causes bleeding upon brushing. This is a sign of gum-disease.
There are many different treatments. One is to go to a periodontist. (Gum specialist) The first treatment is usually deep cleanings. The root surfaces must be cleaned thoroughly to allow the attachment to come back. Aids to this are water picks, lasers, peroxide based toothpaste, such as Rembrandt, and other surgical procedures.
As a patient you should be aware of your periodontal numbers so you can clean those areas better where there are deep pockets. If you think you have periodontal disease, please get seen by a dentist and have your teeth probed, and be given your options for disease resolve.