Periodontal means “around the tooth” and attacks the gums and the bone that maintain the teeth. Plaque is a thin layer of food debris, bacteria, and saliva. Plaque turns into calculus (tartar) that damages the gums and bone if not eliminated from the tooth. A known characteristic of periodontal disease is red, swelled, and bleeding gums.
Four out of five patients have periodontal disease and don’t even know it! Most patients are not aware of it because the disease usually is painless in the earlier stages. Still, periodontal disease is the #1 reason for tooth loss. Research shows correlations between periodontal disease and other diseases that include strokes, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and increased risk during pregnancy, to name a few. In addition, researchers are learning if inflammation and bacteria associated with periodontal disease affect these systemic diseases and conditions. If you practice good oral hygiene, eat a balanced diet, and schedule regular dental visits, you reduce your risk of developing periodontal disease.
Some Signs & Symptoms of Periodontal Disease:
- Bleeding Or Aching Gums
- Loose Teeth
- Persistent Bad Breath
- Receding Gums
- Red & Puffy Gums
Periodontal Gum Disease Diagnosis
Dr. Charles LoGiudice diagnoses periodontal disease through a quick periodontal examination. This exam should be part of your regular dental check-up. A periodontal probe (small dental instrument) measures the sulcus (pocket or space) between the tooth and the gums during the exam. The depth of a normal sulcus measures three millimeters or less and does not bleed. The periodontal probe indicates if pockets are deeper than three millimeters. As the periodontal disease worsens, the pockets usually deepen. Dr. LoGiudice uses pocket depths, amount of bleeding, inflammation, tooth mobility, Etc, to make a diagnosis that will fall into a category below:
- Gingivitis – The first stage of periodontal disease. Plaque and its toxic by-products irritate the gums, inflamed, and likely to bleed a little.
- Periodontitis – Plaque hardens and turns into tartar (calculus). As tartar and plaque build-up, the gums may begin to recede from the natural teeth. Deeper pockets may form between the gums and teeth. The gums become irritated, inflamed, and bleed easily. Slight to moderate bone loss may be visible.
- Advanced Periodontitis – The teeth lose more support as the gums, bone, and periodontal ligament continues to retract. Unless treated by a professional, the affected teeth will become loose and may be lost. Moderate to severe bone loss may be visible.
Gum Disease Prevention & Home Care
It only takes twenty-four hours for plaque not removed from your teeth to turn into dental calculus, commonly known as tartar!
Daily cleaning helps control plaque and tartar formation, but those hard-to-reach areas will always need special attention. Dr. Charles LoGiudice may suggest regular periodontal cleanings. During your cleaning appointments, Dr. LoGiudice will carefully examine the pocket depths to ensure they are healthy. He will remove the plaque and tartar that is difficult to remove by the patient from the gum line.
Your periodontal cleaning and evaluation appointment will include:
- Examination Of Diagnostic X-Rays (radiographs): Essential for detecting decay, cysts, tumors, and bone loss.
- Examination Of Existing Restorations: Check your current fillings, crowns, natural teeth, Etc.
- Examination Of Tooth Decay: Check tooth surfaces for signs of decay.
- Oral Cancer Screening: Check the patient’s face, neck, tongue, throat, cheek tissues, lips, and gums for signs of oral cancer.
- Oral Hygiene Recommendations: Review and recommend overall oral hygiene aids as needed.
- Teeth Cleaning & Polishing: Removes stain and plaque that is not eliminated during tooth brushing and scaling.
Having an excellent oral hygiene routine and regular cleanings is essential to control periodontal disease and improve overall dental health!
Periodontal Disease Treatment
The periodontal treatment methods depend on the type and severity of the disease. Dr. LoGiudice will evaluate for periodontal disease and recommend the appropriate treatment for your case. The periodontal disease worsens as the sulcus (pocket or space) between the tooth and gums gets filled with bacteria, plaque, and tartar, irritating surrounding tissue. If these irritants reside in the pocket space, they may cause harm to the gums!
If Dr. LoGiudice catches gingivitis early, then one to two regular cleanings may be the necessary treatment. You will also get instructions on improving your normal oral hygiene routine and having regular dental cleanings. In addition, Dr. LoGiudice may recommend a periodontal cleaning if the disease progresses to an advanced stage. This particular treatment is called scaling and root planing (deep cleaning). This treatment starts in one quadrant of the mouth and while the treated area is numb. During this procedure, tartar, plaque, and toxins are eliminated from the gum line (scaling) and smooth out the rough spots on root surfaces (planing). This dental procedure helps gum tissue to heal and the pockets to shrink. In addition, medications, specially medicated mouth rinses, and an electric toothbrush may help control infection and healing. Dr. LoGiudice may also recommend that you see a periodontist (specialist of the gums and supporting bone) in an extreme case.