Periodontal Disease

Periodontal, or gum, disease is a major cause of tooth loss, especially if left untreated. The expert team of periodontists at Miami Healthy Smiles is ready to help prevent, treat, and manage your gum disease to optimize your oral health. Call the Miami office, or schedule an appointment online if you suspect you have periodontal disease.

Periodontal Disease Q & A

What is periodontal disease?

When you develop periodontal disease, bacteria will infect your gum tissue and bone adjacent to your teeth. If left untreated, progressive destruction occurs that can compromise your ability to maintain your teeth. Periodontal disease, however, is not just a bacterial infection but a multi-factorial condition that requires professional intervention.

What is gingivitis?

Gingivitis is the mildest form of gum disease and if not treated can potentially progress to become periodontal disease. You recognize it when your gums are reddened, puffy, and bleed easily when you floss or brush. Usually, gingivitis is a result of poor oral hygiene. You are more likely to develop gingivitis due to factors including:

  • Aging
  • Inadequate home care as well as professional care
  • Health changes (i.e., diabetes is one example)
  • Certain medications
  • Inadequate nutrition
  • Hormonal fluctuations with pregnancy or puberty
  • Smoking

Gingivitis can be reversed with proper oral hygiene and regular professional cleanings.

How does periodontitis develop?

If gone untreated, gingivitis can turn into periodontitis. Plaque buildup on your teeth spreads below the gum line and irritates the gums. Your gums start to separate from the teeth and form pockets that become infected.

With time, these pockets can deepen and eventually this infection reaches the bone with subsequent bone loss around the teeth. Continued bone loss can cause teeth to become loose and eventually lead to extraction.

You can have periodontal/gum disease and not be aware of it because in its early to moderate stages it’s usually asymptomatic. Discomfort and pain usually come in its most severe stage, at which point the prognosis may be limited to poor, which is why regular professional appointments with a qualified periodontist like those at Miami Healthy Smiles are so important.

Why is periodontal disease a major health concern?

Periodontal disease is the number one cause of tooth loss in adults in the United States. In addition to endangering your oral health, periodontal disease is a chronic systemic inflammation that travels through your body. If long-standing and left untreated, this inflammatory process has been noted to affect negatively your heart (cardiovascular system), your kidneys, as well as many of your other systems. Untreated periodontal disease can negatively affect the quality of your life during the golden years.

How is periodontal disease treated?

Periodontal therapy is usually undertaken in phases. During Phase 1, an in-office procedure known as scaling and root planing (a.k.a. deep cleaning), is undertaken usually in sections. A skilled member of the team at Miami Healthy Smiles scrapes and removes plaque and tartar off your teeth and root surfaces by scaling.

They then smooth any roughness on the roots away in an effort to prevent bacteria from gathering again. Often the procedure is done under a local anesthetic. Once the procedure is complete, the hope is that your gums, during the healing process, will reattach to your teeth, eliminating the pockets.

If scaling and root planing fails, you may need flap surgery, which involves folding back the gum tissue and removing the offending bacteria and smoothing damaged bone so healthy gum tissue can reattach. Some patients may need gum grafts or bone grafts to assist in repairing the damage caused by the periodontal disease when it is quite progressed.

For more information about periodontal disease evaluation and treatment, call Miami Healthy Smiles or book an appointment online.

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