Periodontitis a disease of the gums, ligaments and bone structure which hold the teeth in place. Damage to this structure can cause you to lose your teeth. Periodontitis can be present without you being aware of it.
If plaque is not thoroughly removed and is allowed to remain around and under the gum-line, it will harden and become impossible for you to remove with normal brushing or flossing. The bone and ligaments supporting the teeth become infected and damaged and are eaten away by the disease process. Bone and ligaments will not grow back once lost but the treatment of periodontitis can halt the disease process and prevent the situation from deteriorating.
In a Periodontal Examination, each tooth is measured and carefully checked. X-rays may be taken to help show what is happening under the gum-line. You will hear the term “gum pocket” which describes the space between the tooth and gum and is measured accurately to help diagnose the extent of the disease. A healthy pocket measures less than 3mm from the top of the gum to the level where it attaches to the tooth root and does not bleed when gently probed.
What periodontal treatment involves
After a thorough assessment of your gums a treatment plan will be proposed specifically for your type of gum disease.
The key factor in the success of any periodontal treatment is your ability and effort to remove the daily build up of new, soft plaque from all tooth surfaces. You are very important to the success of treatment and it is important that you understand fully what is going on before treatment is commenced. Please feel free to ask questions if you have any concerns Periodontal treatment aims to remove irritants (plaque, bacteria, calculus) from around the tooth and under the gum-line.
This treatment may be over a period of time and may require several visits. These appointments will involve:
Removing deposits of plaque and calculus above and just below the gum line of tooth roots.
Removing plaque and calculus carefully from the roots of the teeth leaving a hard, smooth, clean root surface. For some people this treatment may be sensitive and local anaesthetic may be required. All you have to do is ask.
May be given in conjunction with periodontal treatment to aid the body’s ability to fight the bacterial infection. Antibiotics are commonly given in instances of acute and severe infections.
Periodontitis left untreated can cause tooth loss.
If your gum tissue responds well to treatment and you are able to maintain a good level of oral care, a maintenance program will be designed for you. This involves regular 3, 4 or 6 monthly appointments with the hygienist who will continue to scale and root plane the teeth and remove any new deposits that may have formed since the previous appointment. For some people just beginning their professional periodontal care a series of follow up appointments may be required before the frequency of visits can be regulated, this will be addressed with you by your hygienist at your first appointment.
In some circumstances, even with good personal oral care, your gum tissue may not respond sufficiently and you may be referred to see a periodontist (gum specialist). This is a consideration at any stage of treatment.
Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.