Periodontal disease (periodontitis) is the leading cause of tooth loss and is one of the most common health conditions in our population. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics and poor oral hygiene. Also, people who smoke or chew tobacco, have uneven teeth or don’t have a set routine for professional teeth cleaning are more prone to periodontal disease.
When bacteria start to collect in your mouth, a sticky, colorless substance known as “plaque” develops. Plaque builds up on your teeth. If not removed during brushing and flossing, the plaque particles can harden and turn into tartar. Over time, plaque and tartar become more difficult to remove at home. Receiving regular professional cleanings is vital for maintaining your oral health and preventing periodontal disease.
The longer the plaque and tartar remain on the teeth, the more harm they can cause to your oral health. Accumulated plaque and tartar may lead to gingivitis, an early form of periodontal disease. Routine professional cleanings and proper at-home oral care can prevent gingivitis from developing.
Signs of Gum Disease
It is important to visit your dentist for a complete exam if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Sore, inflamed or receding gums
- Bleeding while brushing or flossing
- Loose teeth
- Presence of bad breath
- Pockets between the gums and tooth
In cases where gingivitis is not treated early, it can advance to periodontal disease, which can not be reversed, but only maintained. Inflammation affects the soft tissue (gums) and teeth, creating pockets between them. If left untreated, the pockets become deep and cause teeth to become loose and eventually fall out.
A common solution for controlling periodontal disease is a deep dental cleaning, also referred to as “scaling and root planing”. While the procedure is usually painless, in some cases, your dentist may recommend numbing the area for comfort. Scaling is the removal of the dental tartar from the tooth surfaces, and root planing is smoothing the root surfaces.
Once reaching an advanced stage, periodontitis cannot be completely reversed. With proper at-home care combined with regular in-office maintenance, your dentist can prevent the disease from progressing and leading to tooth loss. Daily flossing is crucial to preventing and treating periodontal disease.