Research has proven that constant brushing or flossing, along with regular visits to the dentist for professional teeth cleaning helps in preventing gum disease and tooth decay. However, you may still get gum disease even though you adhere to regular oral hygiene. When this happens, periodontal treatment is done to restore damaged or diseased tissues to good health. The treatment procedure is done to ensure you hold on to your natural teeth as well as improving the function and appearance of the supporting structures. Get in touch with our experienced periodontists at The Downey Dentist to get periodontal treatments and check-ups.

What is Periodontics?

Periodontics is the specialty of dentistry that focuses on the supporting structure of the teeth, as well as conditions and diseases that affect them. The structures supporting the teeth are known as the periodontium, which includes alveolar bone, gingiva that is commonly known as gums, cementum, and periodontal ligament. The dentists who specialize in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of periodontal diseases are referred to as periodontists. Periodontists are also experts in replacing teeth with dental implants.

If periodontal diseases are left untreated, they can result in tooth loss and bleeding gums. The condition can also lead to other health problems such as increasing the risks of heart attack, diabetes, and stroke. Also, expecting mothers with periodontal diseases can give birth to low weight infants.

Stages of Periodontal Disease

Gums are the structures that are initially affected before the disease progresses further and damage the supporting bones. The disease develops into two stages, as we will discuss below.

Gingivitis: At this phase, the disease is not destructive and occurs in the early stages of gum illness. Inflammation and redness will form around the gums, causing bleeding while brushing your teeth. The condition is often resolved by regular brushing and flossing. You can also visit the dentist for professional oral cleaning before it progresses to periodontitis disease.

Periodontitis: This type of illness is a progressed and severe kind of gum illness. Although this is the case, treatment is possible through the application of invasive techniques. The disease is most prevalent in mature individuals and is caused by plaque build-up around the gums. Periodontitis destroys the gums and the supporting bones as it gets worse. If left untreated, the condition might advance to the chronic phase, which causes the death of the gums and ligaments due to deficient blood supply. Plaque is the primary cause of gum disease, and the following is how it affects the gums:

  • When healthy bacteria from the mouth interact with sugars and starch from food, plaque assembles on the coating of the teeth. Regular flossing and brushing may get rid of the build-up.
  • The plaque then hardens below the gum and all over the teeth, transforming into tartar, making it difficult to get rid of by just flossing or brushing.
  • The gums then start to get inflamed and irritated around the root of the teeth. The condition later develops pockets between the gums and teeth, which are suffused with plaque. It then causes tooth loss and strains your immunity.

Periodontitis is classified into different types depending on the severity of gums. The following are the exceedingly common forms:

Chronic Periodontitis: The illness is most common in mature individuals and rarely affects kids. It is induced by plaque build-up, which leads to the bones backing the teeth and the gums deteriorating slowly.

Aggressive periodontal disease: Affects children but may also progress to initial adulthood. This type of periodontitis is genetically acquired and advances quickly to tooth loss and bone damage.

Necrotizing periodontal disease: It is the most severe kind of gum illness. Death of gum tissue, tooth ligaments, and supporting structures are the unique traits caused by the insufficient blood supply. This type of periodontitis is mostly common in persons with a subdued immune system.

Elements Contributing to the Advancement of Periodontal Disease

Smoking is a significant risk factor in the development and progression of periodontal disease as smokers are six times more likely to get the disease compared to non-smokers. Tartar will accumulate and create deep pockets that host the bacteria and plaque. Smokers have less bleeding gums, which gives the impression that they have healthy gums, but it increases the possibility of periodontal disease, making treatment challenging.

Hormonal changes are also a cause of periodontal disease, making it affect more women more than men. Hormones produced at the time of the monthly period, pregnancy, puberty, or menopause increase the movement of blood into the gums. It then increases the gum's responsiveness to stimuli, which makes them act in response to irritation. The consistent irritation of the gums causes inflammation and bleeding, developing into the initial stage of periodontal disease.

Chronic illnesses such as cancer and HIV weaken the immune system, which increases the possibility of acquiring the periodontal disease. Diabetes, caused by the body's inability to balance sugar, also increases the possibility of dental complications.

Medications are also a factor as some medicines interfere with the normal functions and appearance of the supporting structures of the teeth. They may cause bleeding gums, deterioration of the gums and teeth, or increase the sugar level in the mouth, favoring the growth of bacteria.

Stress lowers the immune system that fights infection in the body, which may cause gum disease.

Periodontal disease is also acquired genetically. Regardless of maintaining good oral hygiene, such individuals are susceptible to periodontal disease. Early diagnosis and treatment may prevent further damage.

The condition of your teeth can gather plaque, which causes periodontal disease. Crooked teeth lie over each other creating spaces between the gums for plaque to assemble.

Prevalent Symptoms of Periodontal Disease 

The initial stages of the disease will advance without pain, making it difficult to determine whether you need medical treatment. The following symptoms may appear indicating you have been infected with the illness:

Bad breath may be a sign of a complication with your dental well-being. However, bad breath can also be caused by bad oral cleanliness and not necessarily caused by the disease. The bacteria present in the mouth produce contaminations that irritate the gums. These toxins facilitate the development of plaque and cause bleeding of the gums.

Gum recession, which is the wearing away or pulling of the surrounding of your gum from the teeth is a sign of periodontal disease. The recession exposes the root of the teeth that facilitates the build-up of plaque.

Although the shifting or loose teeth is a normal dental transition in young children, it is a non-common occurrence in adults. Plaque causes changes in the size and shape of your teeth, which is a sign of the periodontal condition.

Pockets filled with pus between your teeth and gums are a sign of periodontal illness. The disease might also result in sores that are caused by your inflamed and worn out gums. The lesions in your mouth later result in a lot of pain and fever.

Treatment for Periodontal Disease

Treatment is done to foster healthy dental development by reattaching the gums to your teeth, which will reduce the pockets and reduce swelling. The treatment procedure is dependent on the phase of your disease and your comprehensive health. Treatment of the illness ranges from non-surgical medical attention, which is done to remove bacteria, to periodontal surgical procedures done to treat advanced periodontal problems.

Non-Surgical Medical Attention

Non-surgical periodontal therapy is applied at the early stages of the disease. The non-surgical method involves the removal of bacterial tartar and plaque present on and underneath the gum. Regular dental cleaning may be inadequate to entirely remove the bacteria that attach to the tooth root underneath the gum. In this case, a more specific teeth root cleaning procedure known as deep cleanings is applied.

The following are the non-invasive simple techniques applied to get rid of periodontal diseases:

Scaling and root planing is done to remove tartar at or underneath the gum. Standard cleanings and polishes are not effective in treating the illness as they only deal with a plaque above the gum.

Scaling is the first step and is done to clear the path for a deeper clean. Root planing is the effective cleaning of the plaque both at and underneath the gum. Local anesthetics will be used to numb the area set to be cleaned to reduce pain. After the procedure is completed, you will feel little or no discomfort. The dentist may schedule an appointment, usually after six weeks, to determine the response of the treatment to the disease. Once the disease has been entirely cured, you may need periodic maintenance after every three to four months.

Simple placements of medications under the gum are also done to kill bacteria that may still be present after dental cleaning or a root planing procedure. However, they are not entirely useful as a standalone treatment method for long term control of the periodontal disease. The dentist will determine if this method of treatment is best for your situation.

Systemic antimicrobials or antibiotics are taken orally, and when combined with other non-surgical medical attention, can be useful in treating periodontal illness.

Surgical Treatment For Periodontal Disease

Surgical treatments are usually performed only when the disease becomes very severe, meaning the non-surgical methods are ineffective. Periodontal surgery is a simple and effective treatment method that completely eradicates the periodontal disease. The operation is done to clean your teeth underneath the gum.

The dentist will make a small incision at the gum line, which will separate the gum from the tooth. The separation is commonly known as flap surgery. After the gums are spread out, the dentist can see and access the infected area. The plaque accumulated on the teeth roots are then removed, and the spread-out gums closed back together with stitches.

Periodontitis often leads to loss of bone and other bony defects that require additional forms of treatment, such as bone restructuring that may be done during the flap surgery. This kind of surgery is referred to as osseous surgery. The process known as guided tissue regeneration is done to repair and regenerate the bone depending on the shape and size of the defect. The dentist places a membrane around the affected bone, which allows the fault to be whole by naturally filling in with tooth ligament and bone. The procedure will prevent the gum tissue from collapsing into the defect. Hence no soft tissue will be present in the affected area. Some membranes dissolve on their own, but others may require the dentist to schedule an appointment for removal. 

Dental Implants

Dental implants are artificial tooth root placed on your jaw to hold bridges or replacement teeth. It is mostly an option for individuals who have lost their teeth as a result of periodontal disease or injury. The implants provide strong foundations for either permanent or removable replacement teeth that appear similar to natural teeth. Dental implants have replaced previously used methods such as bridgework as they eliminate the need for granting.

The following are the two types of dental implants applicable in the modern world.

The endosteal dental implant procedure involves the placement of small titanium screws, blades, or cylinders that are gently placed in the jaw to provide a foundation for fixating teeth or stabilize a denture. One or more teeth support each implant.

A subperiosteal dental implant involves placing the implant on the jaw and metal posts protruding through the gum to hold the prosthesis. This type of dental implant is suitable for individuals with minimal bone height and those who put on conventional dentures.

The Dental Implant Procedure

Before the dental implant, the procedure, the dentist will have to perform either non-surgical or periodontal surgery treatments to ensure the implant is done on healthy gums. Your dentist can help you choose the type of implant suitable for you depending on specific conditions.

Socket preservation or grafting is first done to prevent loss of bones that occur during tooth extraction. A bone graft is placed into an extraction socket to secure the graft with a membrane to minimize bone loss. This procedure is inexpensive and can easily be performed compared to the ridge modification procedure.

Ridge modification is done to repair defects in the jaw bone before the implant procedure. The dentist will decide on the materials and techniques to use for the ridge modification procedure. Allografts and xenografts are usually used for small defects, while specialized protein or your bone can be used for significant defects.

Sinus augmentation (sinus lift) is then performed to restructure the bone back to the normal state to support dental implants. It is done to the upper back jaw as it is challenging to place the implant due to a lack of quantity and quality bone to support the graft.

Soft tissue grafting is done to create aesthetic and functional dilemmas. If the gums are damaged during the extraction, your dentist can replace the missing gum tissues to prepare for dental implant placement.

What to Expect With Periodontal Treatment Procedures

It is usual for bleeding to occur during periodontal surgeries and dental implants. After the surgery, you will be provided with gauze that should be used for a period of one to two hours. It is advisable to avoid rinsing and spitting for the first 24 hours after the procedure to help in blood clot stabilization.

Swelling is also a reasonable outcome after the procedure and can be reduced using the cold pack application method where you place ice next to the swollen area. You can also use a heat pack to reduce swelling after the third day.

You should also expect to feel some discomfort after the procedure. To avoid pain, you can take painkillers before the numbness wears off. Afterward, you should adhere to the prescribed medication.

It is normal to get minor bruises on the lips, neck, cheeks, and face. The dentist will use stitches, which may be dissolvable within one to two weeks. For non-dissolvable stitches, the dentist will remove them during a post-surgery visit.

You should also adhere to a soft, well-balanced diet while maintaining proper hygiene. You should avoid operating heavy machinery for at least two weeks. Alcohol and smoking are also not allowed for two weeks.

Benefits of Periodontal Treatment

Non-surgical procedures provide an intensive cleaning that helps break down bacteria and restore health to the gums and mouth. The cleaning also destroys the pockets of bacteria and help prevent further damage.

Periodontal surgery prevents further infection from periodontal disease. After deep cleaning, you can take control of oral hygiene once the bacterial infection has subsided to avoid tooth loss and help regrow damaged tissues and bones.

Dental Implants and periodontal surgery restore functionality to certain areas of your mouth by strengthening or replacing the defective teeth. Gum gaps between teeth can also be reduced and reshaping of the jaw bone to lower the risk for bacterial growth.

Contact a Downey Dentist Near Me

Periodontal disease can cause tooth sensitivity, bad breath, swollen, and bleeding gums. If it is left untreated, it can result in severe outcomes such as loss of teeth and bone defects and end up affecting your general health. Reducing risk factors, maintaining good oral hygiene, and keeping routine appointments can reduce the risk and severity of periodontal disease. The Downey Dentist is here to offer Periodontic services. Please contact us at 562-746-0350 today!