Periodontics is the branch of dentistry that deals with the health of the foundational support of the teeth, namely the gums and bone.
Periodontal (Gum) Disease:
Periodontal disease broadly includes gingivitis and periodontitis.
The longer plaque and tartar are on teeth, the more harmful they become. The bacteria cause inflammation of the gums that is called “gingivitis” Symptoms may include redness, puffy and swollen gums. Gums will often bleeding during tooth brushing or at other times.
Gingivitis occurs in both chronic and acute forms. Acute gingivitis is usually associated with specific infections, micro-organisms, or trauma. Chronic inflammation of the gum tissue surrounding the teeth is associated with the bacterial biofilm (plaque) that covers the teeth and gums.
Gingivitis was once seen as the first stage in a chronic degenerative process which resulted in the loss of both gum and bone tissue surrounding the teeth. It is now recognised that gingivitis can be reversed by effective personal oral hygiene practices.
When gingivitis is not treated, it can advance to “periodontitis” (which means “inflammation around the tooth”). Symptoms may include red or swollen gums, bleeding when brushing or at other times, receding gums (roots become exposed and teeth begin to look longer), bad breath, aching itchy sore or tender gums. Though the majority of adults are affected by gingivitis, gingivitis fortunately does not always develop into periodontal disease. Progression of gum disease is influenced by a number of factors which include oral hygiene and genetic predisposition. One of the challenges for early detection of periodontal disease is its “silent” nature – the disease does not cause pain and can progress unnoticed. In its early stages, bleeding gums during toothbrushing may be the only sign; as the disease advances and the gums deteriorate, the bleeding may stop and there may be no further obvious sign until the teeth start to feel loose. In most cases, periodontal disease responds to treatment and although the destruction is largely irreversible its progression can be halted.
Plaque control is the most important method of limiting periodontal disease and maintaining gingival health. This must be considered at two levels: what individuals can do for themselves by way of plaque control on a daily basis, and what dentists and hygienists can do to eliminate plaque retention factors in individuals and to advise patients on the most appropriate home care.
Periodontists are dentistry’s experts in treating periodontal disease. They receive up to three additional years of specialized training in periodontal disease treatment in both non-surgical treatments and periodontal plastic surgery procedures. Periodontists are also experts in replacing missing teeth with dental implants.