Periodontitis or Periodontal Disease is gum and bone infection that is caused by the build-up of bacteria around your teeth above and below the gumline. This accumulation of bacteria in the form of plaque (soft) or tartar (hard stone like material) causes your body’s immune system to attack your gums and bone, leading to inflammation of your gums and alveolar bone dissolving away. Usually the progression of periodontal disease is painless until the severe stage.
The following are the stages of periodontal disease:
- Healthy Gums – the gums look pink, stippled (like an orange peel texture) and firm as they hug the teeth very tightly. Your breath will not be affected by your teeth or mouth. The periodontal measurements are 1.0-3.0 mm and there is no bone loss.
- Gingivitis – the gums show slight inflammation and may have redness, tenderness or bleeding with brushing or flossing. The periodontal measurements are 1.0-3.0 mm and there is no bone loss. There may be possible bad breath or taste, but no tooth mobility.
- Early Periodontal Disease – the gums show some inflammation and can have redness, tenderness or bleeding with brushing or flossing. Usually, there is bad breath and/or a bad taste. The periodontal measurement is 4.0 mm. There is mild bone loss and but no tooth mobility.
- Moderate Periodontal Disease – the gums show medium inflammation and have redness, tenderness, and bleeding with brushing or flossing. The periodontal measurement is 4.0 – 6.0 mm. There is more bone loss and gum swelling with possible tooth mobility.
- Severe Periodontal Disease – the gums have increasing inflammation with redness, tenderness, and bleeding with brushing or flossing. The periodontal measurement is 7.0 mm or greater with significant bone loss. Probable tooth mobility and possible tooth loss are expected in the near future.
Treatment for periodontal disease will depend on the severity of the disease. Often times people with early to moderate periodontal disease will be able to treat this disease at Dr. Tang’s office without surgery and or more extensive treatment. However, if there is an alveolar bone loss, this bone will not regenerate. Usually, treatment is aimed at reducing the bacteria causing the disease to make the gums healthier and keep the periodontal disease from progressing. This involves having Dr. Tang or his hygienist perform a deep cleaning, flossing twice per day, improving brushing effectiveness, and having more frequent professional dental cleanings.
Research also shows that periodontal disease has been linked to more serious health conditions including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, and pre-term birth.
It is hypothesized that bacteria and inflammatory mediators from the gums of a person with moderate to severe periodontal disease enters their blood stream, causing chronic inflammation in other parts of their body. This is another reason periodontal disease should be treated even it doesn’t hurt yet!