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Gum Disease: What is it, How to Treat It

Periodontal Disease: Understanding, Types, and Treatments

Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is an inflammatory condition affecting the surrounding and supporting tissues of the tooth. Progressing from gingivitis due to bacterial infections in gum pockets, it can lead to the destruction of connective tissue and jawbone, resulting in tooth loss. In the developed world, it’s the leading cause of tooth loss among adults.


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Types of Periodontal Disease

Gingivitis can escalate to more severe forms of gum disease when untreated. As toxins from plaque irritate the gums, an inflammatory response causes the body to destroy its bone and tissue. This results in teeth separating from infected gum tissue.

Chronic Periodontitis

The most common type, characterized by deep pockets, gum recession, and progressive attachment loss, interspersed with rapid progression periods.

Aggressive Periodontitis

This type affects clinically healthy individuals, marked by rapid gum attachment loss, chronic bone destruction, and familial aggregation.

Necrotizing Periodontitis

Mostly in people with systemic conditions like HIV, immunosuppression, and malnutrition, leading to tissue death in periodontal ligament, alveolar bone, and gingival tissues.

Periodontitis due to Systemic Diseases

Begins early and often relates to diseases like respiratory illness, diabetes, and heart disease.

Diagnosing Periodontal Disease

Your dentist or dental hygienist diagnoses periodontal disease during a periodontal examination as part of a regular dental check-up. Using a periodontal probe, the sulcus (pocket or space) between the tooth and gums is measured. As the disease advances, pockets get deeper, indicating its severity.

Treatment for Periodontal Disease

Treatment methods depend on the disease’s type and severity. It involves scaling and root planing, tissue regeneration, pocket elimination surgery, and potentially dental implants. After treatment, maintaining oral hygiene is crucial.

Maintaining Gum Health Post-Treatment

After completing your periodontal treatment, regular maintenance cleanings are vital. These cleanings, typically done four times a year, ensure pocket depths remain healthy and plaque and calculus are removed. The appointment includes x-ray examinations, checking existing restorations, decay checks, oral cancer screenings, oral hygiene recommendations, and teeth polishing.


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