PERIODONTOLOGY

THE SPECIALTY OF DENTISTRY THAT STUDIES SUPPORTING STRUCTURES OF TEETH, AS WELL AS DISEASES AND CONDITIONS THAT AFFECT THEM

What is Periodontology?

Periodontology is one of the eight dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association. It is an entire branch of dentistry dedicated to studying the soft tissues and bone supporting the teeth, researching new techniques for treating periodontal diseases, and replacing teeth lost to periodontal disease with dental implants.

WHY YOU NEED A PERIODONTAL SCREENING?

Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection that affects the attachment fibers and supporting bone that hold your teeth in your mouth. A periodontal screening is an easy way for your dental care professional to determine the state of your periodontal health. During this screening, a small measuring probe is gently placed between your tooth and gum to assess your periodontal health. Early detection and treatment of periodontal disease can help you keep your teeth for a lifetime.

WARNING SIGNS OF PERIODONTAL DISEASE

When gums bleed during brushing
Swollen, red or tender gums
Longer teeth
Pus appears when pressing the gums
Loose teeth
Change in position of teeth
Change in the way your teeth fit when you bite
Bad breath or bad taste

WHAT IS PERIODONTAL DISEASE?

Periodontal disease starts by a bacterial infection that destroys the gums, bone and ligaments supporting the teeth. Periodontal disease progresses silently, often without pain or symptoms. It may develop slowly or progress rapidly. Nine out of ten people are afflicted with some form of periodontal disease in their lifetime. Periodontal disease affects more than half the population over 18 years of age. After 35, approximately three out of four adults develop some form of gum disease.

HOW DOES PERIODONTAL DISEASE DEVELOP

Bacteria called plaque forms at the point where the teeth meet the gums, as well as between the teeth. If it is not removed daily, plaque multiplies into colonies. Unremoved plaque hardens into tartar, a tough gritty deposit which, because of its roughness, collects more plaque. Tartar can only be removed by a dentist or dental hygienist. If plaque is allowed to develop, an inflammation of the gums occurs called gingivitis. As gingivitis worsens, gums begin to pull away and recede from the teeth. Pockets of bacteria form and deepen, reaching the bone and destroying the bone that anchors the teeth. The advanced stage of this disease is called periodontitis, which can lead to tooth loss if not treated. Other causes of periodontal disease, aside from plaque (the chief cause), are conditions affecting the immune system such as diabetes, hormone imbalances, thyroid malfunction and pregnancy, and also some medications and hereditary factors.

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