Periodontal Disease | Periodontists Beverly Hills
Many people focus on their teeth when it comes to dental health, but the gums are just as important. Healthy gums help stabilize teeth where they are anchored to the jawbone, and they also serve to keep bacteria from invading the root surface.
Unfortunately, about 80 percent of adults in the United States do not have totally healthy gums. Periodontal disease ranges from minimal inflammation (gingivitis) with simple handlings to full-fledged gum disease that threatens the teeth and jawbone. Additionally, severe gum disease has been associated with conditions such as strokes, heart disease, diabetes and more.
With the early stages of gingivitis, you may have no discomfort at all, although you may see redness, swelling or bleeding in affected areas.
If gingivitis is allowed to advance to periodontitis, bone and tissue loss can start to occur. Our doctors can conduct a thorough examination, including using state-of-the-art digital x-rays and 3D imaging, to accurately assess if this bone loss is occurring.
Other symptoms that you may have gum disease include:
- Teeth that are sensitive
- Tender gums
- Pain while chewing
- A tooth that is loose
- Chronic bad breath
- Poor oral hygiene
- Tobacco use (chewing or smoking)
- Systemic conditions such as autoimmune disease or uncontrolled diabetes
- Medications that create dry mouth or gingival inflammation, including steroids, certain blood pressure drugs and prednisone after a kidney transplant
- Hormonal changes, including pregnancy and puberty
- Certain types of bacteria have no place in the mouth, and they can be passed on from parent to child
Progression of periodontal disease
The mildest form of periodontal disease is called gingivitis. Gums become inflamed, red and swollen, and there may be some bleeding even with gentle brushing or flossing. This form of gum disease is easily treated.
If, however, gingivitis is not treated, it can develop into a more serious condition called periodontitis. Plaque is the sticky film of bacteria that covers teeth and must be removed with daily hygiene. It is formed from food, beverages, mucus and other bodily elements. When this cleaning is neglected, the plaque hardens (tartar). Bacteria in the plaque start to invade the gums, irritating and causing infection. This toxic buildup, if not stopped, causes the body's immune system to respond to the infection by attacking the bacteria. Unfortunately, this attack includes the tissues, gums and bone located in the inflamed area.
When gum disease continues to spread, the gums start to pull away from the teeth, creating pockets of bacteria and increasing the infection. More and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed by the body's attempt to attack the infection. Gums and bone so infected can no longer hold the tooth securely; the tooth will become looser and eventually have to be removed or fall out on its own.
Advanced Periodontitis/Periodontal Bone Loss
Untreated periodontal disease can lead to bone loss in the supporting jawbone. Normally, the bone surrounding the tooth roots provides a strong, stable base. Periodontal disease is caused by plaque, a sticky film that is always forming on your teeth. Plaque contains bacteria that can irritate and inflame the gums (pockets form as the gums pull away from the teeth and form spaces). If the infected pockets are not treated, the gum disease can get worse.
Expert diagnosis and treatment
Depending on the extent of the infection, treatment can consist of scaling and root planing for mild to moderate gum disease, where tartar is removed and the tooth root is smoothed out. If the infection is more severe, treatment may consist of removing diseased tissue, or surgically creating a flap in the gums, cleaning the root and bone tissue, then replacing the gum tissue with sutures. In more extreme cases, a tooth extraction may be necessary. If so, our skilled periodontists in Beverly Hills can go over with you the various ways to replace the tooth, such as an implant, bridge, or other restoration.
Our consultation includes a comprehensive examination to fully ascertain the extent, if any, of gum disease or gum recession. Using a periodontal probe, we will measure any pockets around the teeth to determine if any intervention is needed. X-rays and I-CAT CT scans serve to streamline the examination. Based on the results, a treatment plan will be formulated that will best restore your oral health.