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Periodontology

– WHAT IS IT?

Periodontology is the specialty of dental medicine that deals with the study, diagnosis and treatment of the tissues that support the teeth, specifically the gums and bone.

More than half of adults suffer from periodontal disease, which is usually diagnosed late, when symptoms start to appear. This is another reason why regular visits to the dentist are so important.

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is a chronic condition characterized by the formation of periodontal pockets between the gum and the tooth, as a result of the accumulation of bacterial plaque.

As a result, there can be loss of bone supporting the teeth, tooth mobility, movement and the appearance of gaps between teeth, periodontal abscesses, periodontal pockets and gingival recessions, among other complications.

What is plaque and how does it form?

Plaque is an aggregate of bacteria that naturally exists in the mouth and adheres to the surface of the teeth, along with food debris and toxins.

If not removed through good oral hygiene habits, plaque becomes harmful, causing periodontal disease.

How does periodontal disease develop?

As a rule, bacterial plaque is the cause of periodontal disease. There are also other aggravating factors, such as genetic factors, medication, hormonal changes, smoking and uncontrolled diabetes.

This disease is usually an “evolution” of gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums, also caused by the accumulation of plaque and tartar around the teeth.

If gingivitis is left untreated, it can develop into periodontitis, increasing the risk of bone and gum loss, which jeopardizes the support of the teeth.

Apart from gingivitis and periodontitis, what other periodontal diseases are there?

Peri-implantitis

Peri-implantitis is a disease related to dental implants and affects around 80% of patients. The main characteristic of this disease is the inflammation of the tissues around osseointegrated dental implants.

Therefore, when there is bleeding and inflammation of the gums in the implant area, bad breath, pain, swelling, among other warning signs, it is important to consult a dentist and start treatment.

Gingival abscess

The accumulation of bacterial plaque is usually at the root of this disease, which manifests itself after the infection has started. If it progresses, it can even reach the supporting structures of the teeth.

Some symptoms of this pathology are the appearance of pus-filled pockets, discomfort and pain in the gums and/or teeth, swelling of the jaw, inflammation of the gums, bad breath and tooth sensitivity.

Dark gums

Although it doesn’t usually cause pain, this is a problem that often affects the patient’s self-esteem.

Hereditary factors, ethnicity, certain medications or other diseases such as periodontitis or gingivitis can be at the root of this condition.

Gingival recession

Gum recession is characterized by the tissue moving away from the teeth, leaving them more exposed. In more complex cases, this problem can damage the very structure of the bone.

Among the causes of this problem are: bruxism, poor oral hygiene, smoking habits, misaligned teeth, among others.

What are the main symptoms of periodontal disease?

The main symptoms of periodontal disease are:

  • Sudden bleeding from the gums or during brushing;
  • Appearance of pus in the gums;
  • Bad taste or bad breath;
  • Very red gums;
  • Retraction of the gums;
  • Change in the position of the teeth;
  • Tooth mobility.

What treatments are indicated for periodontal disease?

Treatment can vary from patient to patient. However, the aim is always the same: to eliminate the bacteria causing the disease.

In the case of gingivitis, the recommended treatment may be to improve oral hygiene and/or carry out a prophylaxis/cleaning treatment, which is fairly simple and quick.

If you’re already suffering from periodontitis, you’ll need prophylactic treatment, but you’ll also need to remove the tartar in the periodontal pocket by scraping and root planing the active pockets.

There are also situations in which corrective periodontal surgery may be necessary (eliminating periodontal pockets and/or regenerating lost supporting tissues).

At the end of this phase, we move on to a maintenance period, the aim of which is to keep the disease completely under control.

Frequently Asked Questions

The bacteria present in saliva can be transmitted. However, for the disease to develop, there needs to be a bacterial build-up and the production of toxins that will cause infection and gum disease.

  • Gum Flap Surgery: opening a flap of gum in order to remove bacteria.
  • Gingival Graft Surgery: covering exposed roots with a piece of gum from the palate.
  • Bone Graft Surgery: to correct certain bone defects created by periodontitis, a bone graft is used.
  • Gingivectomy: removal or reshaping of the gums.

As has already been made clear, periodontal diseases are caused by the accumulation of bacterial plaque. Therefore, the best way to prevent it is to remove it every day by brushing your teeth after meals and using dental floss.

In addition, it is important to have regular oral hygiene appointments, preferably every 6 months.

As well as helping to treat periodontal disease, clinical periodontology also provides plastic periodontal treatments, such as covering gingival recessions with the root previously exposed, augmentations of adhered gingiva and elimination of pathological bridges.

It can also include aesthetic procedures to increase gingival volume and correct asymmetries of the gingival margin or smiles that show too much gum (gummy smile), either around teeth or implants.

When the gums are healthy, there is a stable union, i.e. the bone should cover the entire root of the teeth and the interposed periodontal ligament should provide the teeth with a slight physiological flexibility.

This ligament is a structure that binds and dampens forces, making it essential for chewing. The teeth are positioned and held in the jawbone by this ligament. The function of the gums is to protect this ligament.

In addition, healthy gums should have a pale pink color without bleeding.

Periodontology team

— Meet the team

Dra. Teresa Eliseu

Periodontologia | Implantologia
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