The most common problem periodontists manage is the chronic inflammatory disease periodontitis. Periodontitis results in the gum and bone around your teeth and dental implants to irreversibly shrink, which can lead to premature tooth and implant loss. The disease is characterised by bleeding and inflammation of the gums (which can occur during toothbrushing or even eating and drinking), as well as bad breath and loose teeth. Whilst bacteria is an important initiator of the disease, poorly managed medical conditions such as diabetes and habits like smoking can exacerbate the inflammatory reaction.
What are the possible signs of Periodontitis?
Gingivitis is the first stage periodontitis and involves the inflammation of the gums caused by plaque accumulation. Treatment includes professional plaque and calculus removal, and a thorough at-home oral hygiene regimen including brushing twice daily with an electric toothbrush and daily use of floss or interdental brushes. Regular maintenance visits with your dentist or periodontist is important to monitor and maintain your oral health.
However, if gingivitis is ignored and the inflammation is left uncontrolled, gingivitis can progress to the irreversible destruction of supporting bone and tissues, known as periodontitis. As the bone and gum loss progresses, your teeth may become loose and cause severe pain, which may require their removal.
You may have Gingivitis or Periodontal disease if:
-Gums bleed when you brush or floss
-Redness, swelling or tenderness in your gums
-Teeth appear longer
-Widening gaps between your teeth
-Bad breath and a constant foul taste in the mouth
-Development of bad bite
-Sores in the mouth
The initial discussion about your dental and medical history is followed by a thorough clinical examination of your mouth to identify whether you have gum disease and how severe it is. A periodontal probe, amongst other clinical tools, may be used to measure your gum and bone height. Single tooth and full mouth radiographs may be taken to assess bone loss throughout your mouth. Occasionally, 3D jawbone scans may also be required.
Once the necessary clinical information has been collected, your periodontist will discuss your diagnosis and treatment options with you. Advanced cleaning protocols and surgical procedures are often required to remove bacterial deposits and damaged tissue so that you can re-establish a baseline level of oral health. Long-term supportive periodontal therapy is important to monitor and maintain your periodontal health.