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What is Periodontal Therapy?

  • The word periodontal means “around the tooth”. Periodontal disease is a low-grade bacterial infection of the gums and affects almost 80% of the population.
  • Bacteria tend to collect between the teeth and gums over time. This bacterial plaque, which is a sticky and colorless film, continuously forms on teeth. A proper oral homecare routine involving twice daily brushing and flossing helps eliminate this plaque from building up on teeth. If plaque remains on teeth for over 36 hours, it becomes hard and is called calculus, or tartar. If this debris is not adequately removed, the bacteria migrate deeper under the gum line which causes spaces or pockets to form between the teeth and gum. Pockets with depths of 0-3 mms can be kept clean with a manual toothbrush and general cleanings. Once these pockets grow below the gum line to depths of 4mm or greater, it is impossible to reach them even with good brushing and flossing.
  • The bacteria in plaque release toxins that cause an immune response in gum tissue. In the early stages of periodontal disease, or gingivitis, gums become swollen, red and bleed easily. As the disease progresses, gum tissue and the supporting bone and ligaments of teeth, are destroyed. If enough bone tissue is destroyed, teeth loosen and are eventually lost.
  • Gum disease rarely causes pain since the infection readily drains up through your gum. This drainage between your teeth and gums will often lead to persistent bad breath and a bad taste in your mouth. Often you cannot tell that you have gum disease. It can be likened to having termites in your house. Above ground the house looks fine, but below ground the foundation is slowly being destroyed without you even knowing it. It is the same with gum disease. Just because it doesn’t hurt doesn’t mean all is well. Unlike looking for termites, we do not need to wait until damage has been done to tell if you have gum disease. We can detect gum disease early and prevent or repair its damage.

  • Research shows us that this ongoing bacterial infection in your mouth can have far reaching effects elsewhere in your body. When the gums are chronically inflamed the bacteria involved can gain entrance into your bloodstream and spread to other parts of your body. Gum disease is suspected of increasing your risk for heart disease, strokes, pulmonary infections, stomach ulcers, pre-term and/or low birth weight babies and also makes it difficult for diabetics to control their blood sugar level.

  • The progression of periodontal disease can be halted if the bacteria and debris are removed from pockets.  Various treatments can be used to accomplish these goals; specifically non-surgical and surgical approaches.  Our goal is to correctly diagnose the various subtypes of periodontal disease and then to use the most appropriate, evidence-based therapy to cease the periodontal destruction and allow your tissues to heal.
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