It is a progressive disease which can ultimately result in tooth loss.
Periodontal disease is also known as gum disease. Some common causes of gum disease include poor dental hygiene, tobacco use, genetic predisposition, diabetes or other underlying medical issues, grinding teeth, and certain medications.
In order to detect and diagnose periodontal disease, the hygienist will gently measure the sulcus (pocket of space) between the tooth and the gums with a small probe. The depth of a healthy sulcus measures three millimeters or less and does not bleed. The periodontal probe helps indicate if the pockets are deeper than three millimeters. The more severe periodontal disease gets, the deeper the pockets. If left undected or untreated, deep pockets form between the gums and teeth and the gums begin to recede. Gums also will be irritated, inflamed, and bleed easily. In severe cases, teeth become very loose and may be lost. If detected early in disease, it is treatable and the prognosis is good.
Research has shown that there is a strong association between perodontal disease and other chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, pregnancy complications, and respiratory disease. Therefore, it is extrememly important to be proactive in caring for your oral health.
If the disease is caught early, and no damage has been done, one or two regular cleanings will be recommended with special instructions given for improving your daily oral hygiene habits. If the disease has progressed to more advanced stages, scaling and root planing (deep cleaning) will be necessary. During this procedure, tartar, plaque, and toxins are removed from above and below the gum line (scaling). Rough spots on root surfaces are made smooth (planing.) With time this will help gum tissue heal and pockets to shrink. If pockets, do not heal after this, surgery may be necessary.
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