During our years of practice experience, we have found it to be in the best interest of our patients if they thoroughly understand their periodontal (gum) problems. Similar to high blood pressure and high cholesterol, gum disease usually does not hurt, but it needs to be treated.
Periodontal disease is an infection that begins in the gum tissue and then spreads under the gums into the supporting jaw bone surrounding the teeth. Without gum treatment, there is continued deterioration of the jaw bone around the teeth. Once this bone is lost, it usually cannot be replaced. The teeth will loosen and eventually may need to be extracted.
In health, the gum is sealed to the tooth in a fashion similar to the seal between your skin and fingernail. This area is infected daily by plaque (bacteria and saliva) that exists in everyone’s mouth. If plaque and tartar (hard plaque) is allowed to remain under the gums, the bacteria break down the seal between the teeth and gums. The infected “pocket” that results is too deep to clean, even with the best home care and regular dental cleanings.
We might recommend a series of scaling and root planing appointments (deep cleanings) to try to control your gum disease. This treatment is necessary in order to get below the gum tissue and remove the plaque and tartar. The procedures do not involve surgery and are typically done in 1-4 visits. Once the deep cleanings have been completed, we will re-evaluate your mouth to determine how often you need “regular” cleanings and whether or not you need pocket reduction surgery.
Untreated gum disease has been linked to many diseases in the body including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, prostate cancer, and dementia. Gum disease does not hurt, and you may have it but not know it.