Periodontal disease is very common and occurs in many patients, some who never know that it is occurring. It is a progressive and non-curable disease of the gums and bone surrounding the teeth. Patients with untreated gingivitis will begin to develop “pockets” around their teeth that contain bacteria. Over time bone loss occurs around the teeth until eventually the teeth loosen and must be taken out. Mild to Moderate cases of periodontitis can be treated by the dentist or hygienist by performing a procedure called Scaling and Root Planing. The patient is numbed for comfort and the teeth are cleaned and scraped, removing the bacteria from the pockets and allowing for healing. Local antibiotics can be placed in the pockets as well to allow for improved healing. Once the scaling is successful, the patient will remain on a maintenance program that requires cleanings three to four times a year. This keeps the disease at bay and prevents it from progressing any further.
Severe cases can require surgery or laser treatment performed by a specialist called a Periodontist. A diagnosis will be made by the dentist and a referral to a periodontist will be recommended.