Periodontics is a branch of dentistry that involves conditions and diseases of the supporting structures of the teeth. These supporting structures include the gingiva (gums), alveolar bone, cementum and the periodontal ligament, collectively known as the periodontium. Periodontics is derived from the Greek language and literally translates as the study of that which is around the tooth.
The practice of periodontics typically focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of periodontal disease, also commonly known as gum disease. Periodontal disease is actually a broad term that encompasses several different conditions of the gums, including gingivitis and periodontitis.
These are common conditions that affect millions of people as a result of smoking, genetics or poor oral hygiene. While most cases of periodontal disease are not serious and can be effectively treated through conservative treatment methods, proper oral hygiene and healthy lifestyle habits should be practiced by all patients.
Periodontal disease can develop as a result of many different factors. Some of these factors include:
- Poor hygiene
- Pregnancy or menopause
Many cases of periodontal disease do not cause any symptoms until the condition progresses to an advanced stage. It is important to seek medical treatment at the first sign of any symptoms. Common symptoms of periodontal disease include:
- Red, swollen, tender gums
- Receding gums
- Sores in the mouth
- Loose or separating teeth
- Pus between the teeth and gums
- Bad breath
- Change in bite
Most cases of periodontal disease begin as gingivitis, a mild form of periodontal disease that causes the gums to swell, redden and bleed easily because of inflammation. Gingivitis is often caused by a buildup of plaque and bacteria in the teeth because of poor hygiene, or as a side effect to certain drugs, an infection or poor nutrition.
If left untreated, gingivitis may develop into periodontitis, a more severe form of periodontal disease that involves plaque spreading below the gum line and the formation of deep pockets that can cause frequent infections and serious damage to the gums and bone.
At Distinctive Dental Services of New York, we are concerned with the prevention and treatment of periodontal disease. Various methods and prevention programs can arrest the progression of periodontal disease and even reduce periodontal pocket depth. Treatment for periodontal disease usually focuses on removing the plaque buildup in the teeth to restore your mouth to its previous healthy state. For early, mild cases of periodontal disease, your doctor may recommend a deep cleaning, performed as a scaling or root planing.
More advanced cases of periodontal disease may require surgical treatment to repair the condition. Periodontal surgery may include pocket reduction, regeneration, crown lengthening or soft tissue grafts to help restore damaged teeth and gums. Patients will also need maintenance care after these procedures in order to ensure that the dangers of periodontal disease will not return.
You can reduce your risk of developing periodontal disease by practicing proper hygiene on a daily basis, including brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing once a day. Electronic toothbrushes are often among the safest and most effective types of toothbrush for most patients. Fluoride products can also significantly reduce the risk of tooth decay, but should not be used on children under the age of six.
Seeing your dentist for a professional cleaning on a regular basis is also essential in maintaining healthy teeth. Dr. Zimbardi and Dr. David along with their Registered Dental Hygienists can remove plaque and other substances that have built up on the teeth over time. Avoiding smoking and eating a balanced diet can further reduce your risk of periodontal disease as well as maintain and improve your overall health. Your dentist will recommend any additional prevention techniques that can be taken to prevent gum disease.
Many people are affected by periodontal disease, whether mild or severe. If you are experiencing any signs or symptoms of the disease, call DDSNY today at 516-487-8110.