Periodontitis is the formal name of advanced gum disease. It’s one of the leading causes of tooth loss, and affects millions of people over the age of thirty. But advanced gum disease can be treated, and does not have to result in the loss of teeth.
Gum disease is progressive. Before it reaches the advanced stage, it is called gingivitis, which is inflammation in the gums. An early sign of gingivitis is bleeding when you brush or floss your teeth.
Gingivitis develops when plaque is not adequately removed from your teeth. You remove it by brushing and flossing. The good news is that gingivitis is easily reversible. If you’re diagnosed with it, you need to step up your brushing and flossing, and get a professional cleaning by a dental hygienist.
Advanced gum disease develops when gingivitis is not treated. Toxins build up in the plaque on your teeth and invades gum tissue. Not only that, it gets into the bone and ligaments that support the teeth. The teeth can actually become loose.
Severe cases may require surgery. But first is a non-surgical treatment called scaling and root planing, or SRP. We scrape plaque and tartar off the surfaces of your teeth and root surfaces. From there, any roughness on the roots is smoothed to prevent bacteria from accumulating there.
It usually takes more than one dental appointment to complete SRP. But once it’s over, the gums will heal and reattach to the teeth. After a few weeks we’ll evaluate the procedure to determine whether additional treatment is necessary.
All of this can be avoided with proper dental care. Like we always say, we want our patients to brush and floss twice a day, and see us for a checkup twice a year, to maintain their dental health.