Periodontics is a specialized dentistry field focusing on the gums and jawbone. Dentists treat mild gum disease, but periodontists handle advanced conditions.
Phases of Gum Disease
There are four phases of gum disease.
Gingivitis is a gum inflammation caused by a buildup of plaque, or bacteria, on the teeth. It is the only type of gum disease that’s reversible, because the jawbone hasn’t been injured.
Untreated gingivitis will turn into periodontitis. At this stage, the disease irreversibly spreads to the jawbone and begins eroding it, increasing the possibility of tooth loss.
If you have moderate periodontal disease, your gums visibly recede, accompanied by an unpleasant-smelling discharge. Your teeth will loosen and wobble.
At this stage of periodontitis, bacteria have dramatically invaded the jawbone. This will cause tooth loss, drastically receding gums and extreme sensitivity to hot and cold. Even worse, the bacteria could travel through your entire body and cause a heart attack, diabetes or stroke.
There are several treatment options, depending on the seriousness of the gum disease:
Periodontal Scaling and Root Planing
Periodontal scaling, or deep cleaning, is a outpatient procedure that non-surgically removes plaque, bacteria and tartar that’s built up below your gum line. Scaling goes much deeper than the standard dental cleaning you get during your regular checkup. The procedure is only used to treat advanced-stage gum disease.
When your gums are healthy, they fit snugly around your teeth and prevent plaque from entering. However, if you develop gum disease, your teeth loosen and pockets develop that capture plaque. Untreated, this can lead to loss of bone or teeth. Scaling can prevent this from happening
Synthetic bone or parts of your own bone will replace parts of your jawbone that have succumbed to periodontitis. This prompts bone growth in areas where it has been depleted.
The most common type of gum graft is a connective graft. During this procedure, a small section of skin is opened in the roof of your mouth, and a portion of tissue is removed and sewn to the area lacking it.
During this procedure, your doctor will pull a portion of tissue over the receding part of your gums.
If gum disease is caught early, a professional cleaning is all that is necessary to keep it from worsening.
Part of the sinus may actually start to reach downward, filling in the gap left by the teeth. A sinus lift restores the sinus to normal, while repairing the gap with a bone graft instead.