What is periodontics?
Periodontics includes all the treatments and procedures that are used to prevent and fight gum disease, including routine teeth cleaning methods and deep cleaning methods like scaling and root planing, as well as gum graft procedures and osseous surgery to replace gum and bone tissue lost to the gum disease process. The periodontium refers to all the tissues that hold the teeth in place. This refers to the bone, the ligaments and the gums themselves.
What causes gum disease?
Gum disease, or periodontal disease, develops when bacteria that are found normally in your mouth lodge along the gum line where they can be difficult to brush away. Often, bacteria hides beneath hardened plaque called tartar located along the gums or between teeth. Tartar is a combination of food debris and the bacteria that colonize on the food. As these bacteria multiply, they release toxins (erosive enzymes) that cause the gum tissue to shrink away from the tooth surface. As gums recede, more of the tooth surface is exposed to damaging bacteria. Eventually, the bacteria can reach the tooth root, causing infection and loosening of the root, which ultimately can lead to tooth loss. This process is called “pocket formation”. In a healthy mouth, we find 1mm-3mm of space between the tip of the gum and where the gum attaches to the bone. As periodontal disease advances, we see pockets of 5mm-7mm, which severely jeopardizes the health, stability and ultimately the retention of the tooth. Receding gums are unsightly but more insidiously they are a precursor to dental pathology, such as root caries, and loose teeth. By biannual checkups, our office is able to nip these problems in the bud. Procedures like scaling and root planing, dental cleanings, dental osseous surgery, and proper instructions on home care and diet allow our patients to maintain great periodontal health.
What symptoms could indicate I have gum disease?
Gum disease can cause different symptoms depending on what stage it’s in. In its earliest stages, it may cause no symptoms or very few symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms that occur during the progression of gum disease include:
- Red, swollen, tender gums
- Bleeding gums, especially when brushing your teeth
- Receding gums
- Sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures
- Tooth pain
- Loose teeth
- Deep infections or abscesses near the roots
Periodontal disease is the number-one cause of tooth loss among adults in the U.S.
How can I prevent gum disease?
The best way to prevent periodontal disease is to have twice-yearly routine dental exams and cleanings. It’s also important to avoid eating a lot of sugary foods, which serve as an ideal food source for bacteria.
Proper home care, brushing and flossing (which we teach at 209 NYC Dental) works in concert with our checkups and cleanings.
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