GINGIVITIS AND PERIODONTITIS


Gingivitis and periodontitis are inflammatory diseases of bacterial origin. Gingivitis is red, bleeding, swollen gums caused by plaque build-up on the teeth. Left untreated, gingivitis may progress to periodontitis; however, with good oral hygiene and effective plaque control, gingivitis is completely reversible. Periodontitis once known as pyorrhea, involves destruction of the gums and bone and, if left untreated, may result in tooth loss. Periodontitis, unlike gingivitis is notreversible; that is, once the damage to the gum and bone occurs, it cannot be completely undone, Fortunately, though, the disease can be arrested.

There are 3 stages to periodontitis; early, moderate and advanced.

In early periodontitis, there are pockets of 3-4 millimeters around the tooth; slight bone loss and ligament damage, and slight progression of plaque and tartar below the gum line. In moderate periodontitis, there are pockets of 5-6 millimeters around the tooth; up to 1\4 of the bone holding the tooth in is lost, and significant progression of plaque and tartar below the gum line. In advanced periodontitis, there are pockets of greater than 6 millimeters around the tooth; more than 1\4 of the bone bolding the tooth in is lost and the teeth may begin to loosen at this stage.

Plaque is the soft, bacterial film which accumulates on the teeth. Once plaque remains on the teeth for a period of time it hardens into tartar or calculus. (Tartar and calculus are synonymous terms). Tartar\Calculus is hard, calcified plaque. It cannot be removed by regular home care. It can only be removed by your dentist or dental hygienist.

Home care: Ideal oral hygiene can be maintained by simply brushing twice daily (am\pm) and flossing once daily, but it must be performed correctly! We recommend that a soft or ultra-soft toothbrush be used- it is our advice that you NEVER use a medium or hard toothbrush because they are too abrasive. Proper brushing is done on the inner and outer surfaces by pointing the bristles at a 45 degree angle toward the gum line and brushing in gentle circular motions. The biting surfaces are cleaned with a scrubbing motion. Proper flossing involves gently easing the floss between the teeth; then gently slipping the floss below the gum line and then easing the floss up and down (not sawing) against the teeth. Brushing and flossing are the two basics – you must do these daily.