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What is Periodontal (Gum) Disease?

The term “periodontal”means “around the tooth.”  Periodontal disease (also known as periodontitis and gum disease) is a common inflammatory condition which affects the supporting and surrounding soft tissues of the tooth; also the jawbone itself when in its most advanced stages.

Periodontal disease is most often preceded by gingivitis which is a bacterial infection of the gum tissue.  A bacterial infection affects the gums when the toxins contained in plaque begin to irritate and inflame the gum tissues.  Once this bacterial infection colonizes in the gum pockets between the teeth, it becomes much more difficult to remove and treat.  Periodontal disease is a progressive condition that eventually leads to the destruction of the connective tissue and jawbone.  If left untreated, it can lead to shifting teeth, loose teeth and eventually tooth loss.

Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss among adults in the developed world and should always be promptly treated.

Types of Periodontal Disease

When left untreated, gingivitis (mild gum inflammation) can spread to below the gum line.  When the gums become irritated by the toxins contained in plaque, a chronic inflammatory response causes the body to break down and destroy its own bone and soft tissue.  There may be little or no symptoms as periodontal disease causes the teeth to separate from the infected gum tissue.  Deepening pockets between the gums and teeth are generally indicative that soft tissue and bone is being destroyed by periodontal disease.

Here are some of the most common types of periodontal disease:

  • Chronic periodontitis – Inflammation within supporting tissues cause deep pockets and gum recession.  It may appear the teeth are lengthening, but in actuality, the gums (gingiva) are receding.  This is the most common form of periodontal disease and is characterized by progressive loss of attachment, interspersed with periods of rapid progression.

  • Aggressive periodontitis – This form of gum disease occurs in an otherwise clinically healthy individual.  It is characterized by rapid loss of gum attachment, chronic bone destruction and familial aggregation.

  • Necrotizing periodontitis – This form of periodontal disease most often occurs in individuals suffering from systemic conditions such as HIV, immunosuppression and malnutrition.  Necrosis (tissue death) occurs in the periodontal ligament, alveolar bone and gingival tissues.

  • Periodontitis caused by systemic disease – This form of gum disease often begins at an early age.  Medical condition such as respiratory disease, diabetes and heart disease are common cofactors.

Treatment for Periodontal Disease

There are many surgical and nonsurgical treatments the periodontist may choose to perform, depending upon the exact condition of the teeth, gums and jawbone.  A complete periodontal exam of the mouth will be done before any treatment is performed or recommended.

Here are some of the more common treatments for periodontal disease:

  • Scaling and root planing – In order to preserve the health of the gum tissue, the bacteria and calculus (tartar) which initially caused the infection, must be removed.  The gum pockets will be cleaned and treated with antibiotics as necessary to help alleviate the infection.  A prescription mouthwash may be incorporated into daily cleaning routines.

  • Tissue regeneration – When the bone and gum tissues have been destroyed, regrowth can be actively encouraged using grafting procedures.  A membrane may be inserted into the affected areas to assist in the regeneration process.

  • Pocket elimination surgery – Pocket elimination surgery (also known as flap surgery) is a surgical treatment which can be performed to reduce the pocket size between the teeth and gums.  Surgery on the jawbone is another option which serves to eliminate indentations in the bone which foster the colonization of bacteria.

  • Dental implants – When teeth have been lost due to periodontal disease, the aesthetics and functionality of the mouth can be restored by implanting prosthetic teeth into the jawbone.  Tissue regeneration procedures may be required prior to the placement of a dental implant in order to strengthen the bone.

Ask your dentist if you have questions or concerns about periodontal disease, periodontal treatment, or dental implants.

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"I had a cap come loose. I called and got a nearly immediate call back, before office hours. Dr. Krause arranged to meet me with 90 minutes, made the repair and had me on my way. Frankly, amazing service in this day and age."

Courtney C.

"I fully endorse, Dr. Kurt M. Krause and his dedicated team.

I first went to Dr. Krause a few years ago to have one of my front top teeth repaired after I chipped it. This tooth and the one next to it had a few procedures done in the past by other dentists. While Dr. Krause examined my situation he noticed that I also needed work done on the tooth next to the chip. I knew he was correct and listened to all of the options he provided. Dr. Krause didn’t push me or force me to take any option which I appreciated. I am not comfortable with having to go through these types of procedures but Dr. Krause gained my confidence in the way he communicated with me so I moved forward with him. Well I have to say I am so glad I took his advice and I now feel and look better than I ever did before meeting Dr. Krause.

In the past I avoided the dentist unless I had major problem. My experience with other places is they are ruff and don’t take the time to build a relationship with you. When I go to Dr. Krause I genuinely feel he cares about me. I also feel he is a perfectionist and he cares more about my teeth then I do. When doing work on my teeth Dr. Krause does a great job and is gentle. Dr. Krause also takes the time to talk with me about my life and has even offered me his opinion on my allergy problems. His advice helped me greatly."

Sean R.

"I have been under Dr. Krause's care for 5 years. He is always professional, kind , and caring. He runs an organized practice and he and his team are always prepared and punctual when it comes to my appointments.

Dr. Krause always attempts to go "above and beyond" with his services, and his follow up is excellent.

I will remain a loyal customer of Dr. Krause as long as I live in the area. I would HIGHLY recommend him as a dentist!"

Anna H.

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