What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is the progressive breakdown of the supporting structures of the teeth. The condition may be localized to one tooth or area or may involve the whole mouth. This condition can affect individuals of all ages.

Gingivitis is a disease of the gums. This condition does not involve the supporting bone around the teeth.

Periodontitis is a disease of the bone supporting the teeth/tooth. As the bone breaks down around the root of the tooth, it creates a space under the gums. This space is called a pocket. The more bone that has been lost around the tooth, the higher the probing depth (number).

The primary cause of Periodontal disease is plaque (oral bacteria) and calculus (also known as tartar). Plaque is a soft, sticky substance that is easily removed with brushing, flossing and/or tooth picking. Calculus is a hard ‘stone” type material that can only be removed by a dentist or hygienist. Both plaque and calculus can form above and below the gum line. The build up below the gum line is not only the most difficult to remove, but also creates the greatest damage.

The primary goal in any dental treatment plan includes addressing the subjects of Health, Aesthetic and Function. A comprehensive treatment plan harmoniously includes each of these three fields in the final plan. The treatment of periodontal disease involves (1) the removal of all of the irritants above and below the gum line, (2) creating an environment for more thorough maintenance, (3) correcting the damage from the disease and (4) preventing the material from building up and reduce the likelihood of the condition from re-occurring. Regular maintenance is just as important as the treatment itself.

There are a number of factors that can influence the initiation and progression of periodontal disease. These factors include, but are not limited to, the following: Smoking, Genetics, Certain medications, Stress, Hormonal influences, Occlusion (how the teeth function), and Crowding of the teeth (tooth position).

Due to these influential factors, the final outcome of periodontal treatment varies with every individual.