Embarcadero 4 Dental is proud to have our own, onsite Periodontal Specialist, Connie Oh, DMD. Dr.Oh is an expert in periodontal disease. She can provide you with the right periodontal treatment including reconstructive periodontal surgery, if necessary.
Procedures Periodontists Use to Treat Gum Disease
- Dental Implants
- Gum Lifts
What is Periodontal (Gum) Disease?
Periodontal disease is an infection in the tissues that support your teeth. Your gum tissue appears as though it’s snuggled right up to your teeth, but in actuality, there is a very shallow, v-shaped crevice called a sulcus, which lies between your teeth and your gums. This sulcus is really too small for you to notice, but it’s the spot where periodontal disease attacks, causing the attachment of the tooth and its supporting tissues to break down. As the tissues become damaged, the crevice (sulcus) becomes a deeper pocket. The deeper the pocket, the more severe the gum disease. This is the reason your dentist checks around the base of each tooth with a small steel “pick” during your exam—to check the depth of the sulcus around each tooth, looking for signs of gum disease. The depth of the sulcus should be between 1 and 3 millimeters; more than that is a sign of gum disease.
The main cause of periodontal disease is bacteria—represented by sticky, colorless plaque. Hard plaque is constantly forming on your teeth. Failure to get rid of this plaque results in gum disease. The purpose of flossing is to pull this plaque out of the area to prevent the infection that leads to gum problems such as bleeding, a sign of gum disease. Gum disease is the #1 cause for losing teeth, and it’s quite preventable.
Periodontal (gum) diseases are classified according to the severity of the disease. The two major stages are:
- Gingivitis, a mild and reversible form of periodontal disease that is limited only to the gums and can be eliminated by removal of the plaque and tartar, and a commitment to brushing and flossing regularly to keep it from forming.
- Periodontitis, the more serious form in which the gums literally pull away from the tooth and form infected pockets. The body fights the infection but the body’s infection-fighting enzymes combine with the bacterial toxins and together they begin to break down the bone and connective tissue that keeps the teeth in place. If this is not treated, the connective tissues, gums and bones will be destroyed, leading to tooth loss.
Factors that increase your risk of developing periodontal disease:
- Smoking or chewing tobacco
- Diabetes and other systemic diseases such as cancer or AIDS
- Medications such as antidepressants, steroids, and some heart medications that lessen the flow of saliva, which has a protective effect on teeth and gums. Certain anti-epilepsy medications, cancer drugs and calcium channel blockers also increase your risk.
- Hormonal changes due to oral contraceptives and pregnancy
- Bridges that do not fit properly
- Crooked teeth that make it difficult to floss close to the gum line
- Defective or loose fillings
- Genetics: some people are more prone to gum disease than others
Warning signs of gum and periodontal disease:
- Gums that bleed when you brush or floss
- Swollen, tender and red gums
- Pain when chewing
- Gums which have pulled away from the teeth
- A persistently bad taste in the mouth or bad breath
- Permanent teeth that are loose or separating
- Changes in your bite
- Changes in the fit of partial dentures
- Tartar and plaque on the teeth
You can have periodontal disease with no warning signs at all, which is another reason you should have regular dental checkups and periodontal examinations. Good oral hygiene will keep periodontal disease from becoming more serious or recurring. Many people lose their teeth due to periodontal disease, but consistently brushing, flossing, eating a balance diet and seeing us on a regular basis will give you a lifetime of smiles—with your own teeth!