What is Gum Disease
You may hear us talking about periodontal disease and bone loss. When plaque and calculus (also called “tartar,” the mineralized version of plaque… no calculator needed to understand!) is allowed to stay on the teeth, especially near the gumline, your body’s reaction is gum inflammation. Hence, the puffy red gums that may bleed and hurt when you go to brush and floss. The gums swell and form deep pockets next to the teeth which are difficult to keep clean (even for us with our special instruments!). This exacerbates the inflammation, allowing plaque and calculus to stay beneath the gumline. When this inflammation is chronic, or is allowed to continue for a long time, the bone underneath the gums supporting the teeth begins to resorb or shrink away from the teeth. Over time, when teeth loose enough supporting bone they can become loose and fall out.
Regular Check Ups are Crucial
Adults that come in for regular checkups and cleanings will have the pockets around each tooth measured with a small probe. In healthy mouths, this is completely painless, much like flossing. If the gums are very inflammed, they may be sensitive when touched. Normal pocket depths are typically between 1mm and 3mm. Deeper thanthis may warrant additional therapy in the form of a deep cleaning (scaling and root planing) and monitoring. In more advanced cases of periodontal disease, a referral to the periodontist may be needed.