Periodontics is the field of dentistry that treats disease affecting the structures surrounding a tooth, instead of the tooth itself.
It comes from the Greek word “Peri” (around) and “Dontal” (teeth).
The structures that surround your teeth are: gum, periodontal ligaments and alveolar bone.
Periodontal disease refers to the bacterial infection that can affect these surrounding structures.
Periodontitis, also known as gum disease is an infection that tends to damage the soft tissues and destroys the adjoining bone that supports the tooth.
Periodontitis, or gum disease though common is preventable is largely as a result of poor oral hygiene.
Usually a bacterial infection starts within the gum (gingivitis), and if left untreated can spread deeper to the ligaments and the bone (periodontitis).
Gingivitis is usually termed as a non destructive disease that causes inflammation of the gums.
Gingivitis comes with its share of signs and symptoms which include swollen gums and bleeding gums.
Swollen and bleeding gums can also be caused by brushing teeth too vigorously or by wearing ill-fitting dentures.
However, frequent sign of swollen gums or bleeding gums van be a sign of gum infection.
When detected, a gum infection requires the attention of a periodontist.
Gum disease or gum infection can also progress to affect the bone that surrounds the tooth.
Mostly, the treatment of gingivitis includes removal of plaque.
Based on the spread of infection, gingivitis can be acute or chronic in nature.
Another dental infection that tends to manifest over a prolonged period of time is the dental abscess.
Dental abscess, also known as tooth abscess, accompanies a bacterial infection that has been accumulated in the soft pulpal tissue of the tooth.
Based on the type of underlying infection, a dental abscess can be gingival, periodontal or periapical in nature.
Untreated periodontal disease can lead to bone loss, which weakens the tooth and leads to tooth loss.
If you are affected with periodontal disease, it is highly recommended that you consult a specialist to prevent progression of the disease.
The treatment and management of periodontal disease depends on the severity of the problem and generally falls into two big categories:
- Non-surgical treatment:This generally involves mechanically removing plaque and tarter deposits from the tooth and root surfaces.Antibiotics and/or antiseptic mouthwashes may be prescribed and a strict plaque control regime is required.
- Surgical treatment:This generally involves lifting the gums to gain better access and visualisation to the deeper pockets for mechanical debridement.Bone grafts or growth factors may be used in certain situations to improve the healing outcome.
Another surgical intervention is the gum graft, also known as the gingival graft.
A gum graft is a surgical procedure to terminate gingival recession.
The aim of a gum graft is to cover the root surfaces of teeth.