Periodontics is focused on the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of gum disease in addition to other gum conditions such as gum recession and gum overgrowth (commonly known as gummy smile).
Signs and symptoms of periodontal disease:
- Tender, swollen, red gums
- Signs of receding gums
- Episodes of bleeding after brushing, flossing, or eating hard food
- Persistent episodes of halitosis (bad breath) or altered taste
- Any signs of formation of pus between teeth and gums
- Signs of loose or shifting teeth
- III-fitting partial dentures or changes in the way teeth fit together when biting
- Pain or sores in the mouth
All these are symptoms of a very common periodontal disease known as "gum disease" which can lead to advanced periodontitis (a severe disease causing teeth loss) if left untreated. An early consultation of a dental professional is highly advisable to avoid advanced stages of the disease.
Gingivitis is a reversible form of gum disease. Gingivitis is caused by an accumulation of bacteria, which form the dental plaque between teeth and gums. Signs of gingivitis are inflammation and bleeding. Gingivitis is reversible with proper oral care and plaque control. If left untreated, gingivitis may lead to destruction of the seal formed between gums and teeth.
Untreated gingivitis can progress to the more severe and non-reversible form of gum disease which is known as periodontitis. Signs of periodontitis are receding gums and the formation of periodontal pockets. These pockets allow plaque to penetrate deeper. Further damage occurs to the gum fibres and bone holding the tooth in place. This may result in tooth mobility and eventual loss.
Periodontal treatment options are:
- Antimicrobial Therapy: Antibiotics and antiseptics are used to kill or slow down the growth of specific bacteria causing the gum disease
- Root planing and curettage (cleaning): Removal of plaques and inflamed soft tissues that surround the teeth. Effective in treating early and intermediate stages of gum disease.
- Gingivectomy: surgical removal of deep pockets in treatment of intermediate to slightly advanced stages of gum disease
- Bone Grafts (Periodontal Regenerative Surgery): replace bone and soft supporting tissues lost due to advanced gum disease
- Osseous surgery: reshape bone that hold one or more teeth to fill holes created by bone loss due to advanced gum disease
- Gingivoplasty: surgical removal of excess gum tissue around the teeth in treatment of gum overgrowth or gummy smile
- Soft-tissue grafts: adding more gum tissue to receding gums
These treatment procedures are followed by maintenance therapy because of the chronic and recurrent nature of the periodontal disease. Indeed, oral hygiene and regular follow up are critically important.