Periodontitis is a serious gum infection that is the biggest cause of tooth loss in over-40’s.
It is an advanced stage of gum disease where sufficient amounts of the bacteria biofilm known as plaque and calculus, its hardened deposit, accumulates at the junction where the teeth come through the gums, infecting the tissue and bone that support the teeth.
As the tissue starts to break down, pockets form in the gum around the teeth, which allow more plaque to form. This is known as chronic periodontitis and has been linked to increased inflammation in the body, which may lead to increased risk of stroke and heart disease.
The first stage in the treatment of periodontitis is a non-surgical cleaning of the pockets below the gum line known as scaling or debridement. In deeper areas a treatment called root planing or deep scaling is used which cleans deep pockets and removes plaque and tartar from the tooth roots. This procedure may require local anaesthetic and several visits to the practice. In addition to initial periodontic treatment it may also be necessary to adjust the bite, or occlusion, to prevent excessive force on teeth that have reduced bone support.
Studies have shown that non-surgical scaling and root planing is usually successful if the periodontal pockets are shallower than 4-5mm. It is necessary for the dentist or hygienist to perform a re-evaluation four to six weeks after the initial scaling and root planning to determine if the patient’s oral hygiene has improved and inflammation has regressed.
Pocket depths greater than 5-6mm which remain after initial therapy, with bleeding upon probing, indicate continued active disease and will likely lead to further bone loss. This is especially true in molar tooth sites where areas between the roots have been exposed. If non-surgical therapy is unsuccessful, periodontal surgery may be needed to stop progressive bone loss and regenerate lost bone where possible.
There are many surgical approaches used in the treatment of advanced periodontitis and a periodontist at Harley Street Dental and Implant Clinic will discuss these with the patient.
Long term studies have shown that in moderate to advanced periodontitis, surgically treated cases often have less further breakdown over time and when coupled with a regular post treatment maintenance regimen are successful in halting tooth loss in nearly 85 per cent of patients.
A post treatment maintenance regimen involves regular check-ups and detailed cleanings every three months to prevent repopulation of periodontitis-causing micro-organisms, and to closely monitor affected teeth so that early treatment can be given if disease recurs.
If you are experiencing bleeding gums, gums that have come away from the teeth, persistent bad breath or teeth that are loose or changing position, book a consultation with a periodontist at Harley Street Dental and Implant Clinic.