Periodontology concerns itself with treating and preserving the tissues responsible for providing support for your teeth and ensuring they remain firmly anchored to the jawbone. The professional term for these tissues is periodontium. Periodontal diseases are the second most common cause of tooth loss after cavities.
Is it a matter of genetics?
Periodontal diseases primarily form as a result of long term dental plaque and calculus build-up. In other words, there are no genetic predispositions at play; the main factor is insufficient oral hygiene. A contributing factor towards plaque build-up can also be overhanging dental restorations and crown edges.
How can I identify a periodontal disease?
The main symptoms of periodontal diseases are bleeding gums and bad breath. Dental plaque contains bacteria which produce a number of toxins which irritate the gums. Red and swollen gums signal an infection. Gums that remain swollen for a longer period of time react to any mechanical stimulus.
Periodontium loss manifests first through gum recession, then the formation of periodontal pockets, and in the final stage by exposed tooth roots. Gum recession causes temperature sensitivity in teeth. Pockets are caused by the space between the gums and the teeth deepening.
Bad breath is caused both by bacteria and periodontal pockets, which serve as a reservoir for food remains to build-up in.
Affected teeth can start to loosen, and if you do not start to remedy the situation, the teeth will have a minimal chance of remaining attached.
Periodontitis or periodontosis?
Both periodontitis and periodontosis are periodontal diseases. Periodontosis shares many symptoms with periodontitis. Just like with periodontitis, periodontal pockets are created and teeth begin to loosen, yet infection is not amongst its medical signs.
How are periodontal diseases treated?
We are able to cure peridontal diseases, but the most important aspect of the treatment is perfect oral hygiene, which not only includes the use of a toothbrush, but interdental brushing and flossing as well. During periodontal disease treatment, we employ a wide range of supplements which can greatly aid the treatment. The supplements include chlorhexidine mouthwashes, gels and bacteria suppressing toothpastes.
The goal of the treatment is to return the affected tooth surroundings, primarily the gums and the jawbone, to their original condition. This can be fully attained only in the case of a gum infection (Gingivitis). In the case of periodontitis and periodontosis, the loss of tissue tends to be permanent – in that case the primary goal is to stop the disease from advancing.
Phases of treatment
We divide periodontal disease treatment into multiple phases, which do not necessarily have to follow a linear progression (it is commonplace to take the patient from the Initial therapy phase directly into the maintenance phase without any surgical procedures).
- Initial therapy
The goal of the initial therapy is to remove any gum infection, and to create and maintain a plaque and calculus-free oral environment. After the initial oral hygiene procedures, we will explain the correct ways to take care of your teeth to you. Correct and regular oral hygiene is a necessity for further treatment.
- Surgical treatment
If the initial therapy proves to be ineffective and the disease cannot be stopped, it is appropriate to employ surgical treatment. There are different types of surgical procedures, all of which share the same goal – to reduce the depth of the periodontal pockets, remove infection, secure the loosened teeth and stop the dental plaque from building up (thus preventing any calculus from forming). The amount of visits needed depends on the number of affected teeth and the extent of the disease. Our patients usually require about 6-12 visits.
- Maintenance phase (recall)
This phase is the last step in periodontal disease treatment. Its goal is to maintain the healthy condition where the gums show no signs of infection or bleeding, the teeth are cavity and calculus-free, and devoid of any improperly fixed bridges, restorations or implants, which could serve as places for plaque to build up or irritate the gums. Depending on your condition, the dentist will create a schedule for you, which could be potentially time consuming in the initial months. During each visit, the quality of your oral hygiene along with the amount of any potential gum bleeding will be assessed, and your teeth will be professionally cleaned. If the condition does not begin to worsen, you will be able to visit the dentist only twice a year.