What Is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is an infection of the areas in the mouth that support the teeth. This includes the gums, the periodontal ligament, and the alveolar bone.
Commonly referred to as gum disease, gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease, and it primarily affects just the gums. The bad news is that if it is ignored, this early stage of gum disease can rapidly progress into the far more serious advanced stage, known as periodontitis. Left untreated, periodontitis can cause irreparable damage, and, in the worst cases, lead to bone and tooth loss.
The good news is that when periodontal disease is caught early and treated, you can prevent easily reverse the conditions caused by gingivitis. With the treatment options available, even periodontitis doesn’t have to advance to the tooth loss stage.
Gingivitis is the non-destructive stage of gum disease. It is caused by the mouth’s bacteria-producing plaque which forms on the teeth and can harden into tartar. This causes the gums to become inflamed, and red, swollen gums that bleed easily are the result. These are the early signs that you may not be brushing and flossing properly to remove plaque, or you haven’t had regular dental office cleanings to remove tartar buildup. Other warning signs may include persistent bad breath, painful chewing, receding gums, and loose permanent teeth.
If you notice these signs, getting to your dentist for a thorough cleaning and making sure you practice proper oral hygiene will go a long way toward preventing further problems, as will changing harmful lifestyle habits, such as smoking, which increases the risk for gum disease.
When Does Gingivitis Become Periodontitis?
The longer gingivitis progresses untreated, the harder the problem is to correct. Periodontitis is the destructive stage of the disease where the gums pull away from the teeth and form pockets that easily become infected. Usually the first step toward combating periodontitis involves a deep-cleaning method called scaling and root planing, which removes buildup. For many, this may be enough. If further treatment is required, other treatment options include medications to treat the infection and gum surgery, such as pocket reduction or flap surgery, or regenerative procedures such as gum grafts.
Prevention Is the Best Policy
As with many oral health issues, preventing the problem in the first place is the best course of action. Failing that, early diagnosis and treatment can minimize and reverse the damage of periodontal disease. Don’t wait, if you are in the Cameron Park, California, area, call us at Country Club Dental to schedule an examination. We will determine your gum health status and get your personalized treatment plan started right away!