What is periodontal disease? It is the inflammation of the surrounding structures of the teeth, including bone and soft tissues. It can be as simple as gum inflammation or more serious involving the surrounding tissues and the bone. When there is a surmountable amount of bone loss, the teeth loosen and can eventually lead to tooth loss.

If you have been told you have periodontal disease (or periodontitis), it does not mean you will automatically lose your teeth.  It also does not necessarily mean you need surgery.  There are non-surgical procedures that can be performed by your dentist or dental hygienist that have remarkable results.  A lot depends on you and your homecare. If these procedures do not produce the wanted results, you may eventually  have to submit to surgery.

We all have bacteria in our mouth that combines with our saliva to produce what is called plaque. This plaque is sticky and needs to be removed by flossing and brushing.  The plaque releases toxins that irritate the gums (which make them inflamed). Since plaque is produced continuously,  the need to remove the plaque daily is necessary. If it is not, the inflammation of gum tissues will occur and you will have bleeding when you do finally brush and floss. This stage of the disease is called “gingivitis” and is reversible.  But,If you do not seek treatment it may proceed to “periodontitis“.

In periodontitis, there are many stages.  The number of appointments depends on the severity of the case.   Root planing and scaling is one very common  procedure that involves removing plaque and tartar under the gums and smoothing of the root surface. Tartar is the plaque that was not removed when it was sticky and newly formed . After time it hardens and cannot be removed with flossing and brushing. After removing the plaque and tartar the tissues will have a chance to heal to a healthy condition. But it does not stop here. You have to do your homecare to help the healing process and to keep the tissues in this healthy state. You may need to use multiple tools such as a waterpik, sonicare toothbrush, very small brushes to reach difficult areas. There are many other additional aids that your dentist or dental hygienist can recommend.  Your home care also includes your overall health.  There are studies showing that smokers have a greater risk of developing periodontal disease and that smoking impairs the healing process. Smoking and periodontal or gum disease also go hand and hand with heart disease.  So periodontal disease can impair your overall health. Remember a lot depends on you!

If you think you may have periodontal disease give Dr. Antolak a call at 586.247.3500.  Our dental office is located in Shelby Township, Michigan and provides dental services to patients throughout southeast Michigan.